Taxi drivers are amongst the most frequent road users and therefore play both a crucial and influential role in keeping roads safe, whether it is through driving safely, using safe vehicles, encouraging their passengers to adopt good road safety behaviours – such as wearing seat belts – or being on hand to respond when there is an incident on the road. As part of a new initiative to make Azerbaijan’s road safe, therefore, EASST partner, the National Automobile Club of Azerbaijan (AMAK) has provided over 200 taxi drivers in Baku with essential road safety training in defensive driving and first aid.
Defensive driving has been proven to save lives, time and money. It involves driving with an awareness of your surroundings and anticipating dangerous situations or road risk. As part of the training offered, taxi drivers were introduced to this concept and encouraged to think about several key topics such as radars and speed safety in certain weather conditions, use of seatbelts and the risks of overtaking on suburban roads. In addition to this training, the taxi company’s management team attended a more focused session to discuss the impact of the training and how they can adapt their company road safety policy to reflect and encourage what the drivers had learned.
For the first time ever, the taxi drivers’ training also included instruction in first aid, enabling them to respond proactively if they are ever involved in or witness a crash. This essential training was led by specialists from the Ministry of Health’s Public Health and Reforms Centre (ISIM), which is responsible for the implementation of public health services in Azerbaijan; setting the agenda for various development and health programmes, regulating reforms in medical institutions and implementing methodical study of reforms in health financing. Drivers received a theoretical introduction to the importance and purpose of first aid as well gaining practical skills and knowledge in First Aid ABC, the Heimlich maneuver, artificial respiration, as well as learning how to respond to conditions including bleeding, shock, convulsions etc. The ISIM’s employees who delivered this vital training are involved in a whole variety of projects on a regular basis led by The World Bank, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and the Global Fund which helps them to increase their expertise in a particular field.
Drivers were also provided with a Guide on Defensive Driving and First Aid Handbook that they can refer to in the future, and, as a result of their training, will now qualify for a ‘Safe Driver’ tag that can be placed in their cabs and on passenger notices to let customers know that they are safe.
This project was completed as part of pilot road safety training project in partnership with the FIA Foundation, the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Azerbaijan (ISIM), British Embassy, State Traffic Police Department of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Baku Taxi Services, LLC and Avtostop Media. It is planned to evaluate the impact of the training programme again in a few months to understand the long-term impact and to assess the sustainability aspects of this pilot project.