EASST partners from nine countries gathered in Tbilisi from October 5th -9th for the first ‘All EASST’ General Meeting. The event was an opportunity to report on projects and developments in each EASST partner country. It enabled EASST Trustees, staff, advisors and partners to review progress so far and plan future strategies. It was also an occasion to celebrate EASST’s achievements and teamwork.

For the National Road Safety Council NGO of Armenia, Poghos Shahinyan described the advocacy campaigns carried out that have resulted in a wholly different road safety environment since the NRSC was established. Those crossing the border from neighbouring countries today remark upon the orderly pedestrian behaviour, prevalence of seatbelt wearing and improvements in road design – changes advanced due to Poghos’ leadership. The NRSC will celebrate its 10th anniversary in December this year and hopes to continue this important work for years to come.

Vusal Rajabli shares his experience as Head of Transport for the inaugral European Games

EASST partner Vusal Rajabli, President of HAYAT in Azerbaijan, has used his position as special advisor to BEGOC, the Baku European Games Operation Committee, to leverage significant improvements in transport safety. A particular legacy of this involvement has been the agreement to build a multi-purpose driver training and testing centre in Baku. The centre was designed by EASST Advisor Alex Wurz and Test & Training International, and will enable road safety training for public fleets (the emergency services, bus companies etc.) and private drivers. Vusal has many future plans in the pipeline to cement these improvements in order to achieve lasting reductions in road casualties.

Irina Potyakina of the BKA in Belarus reported on the many collaborative projects carried out by their club, working with key stakeholders such as the State Road Police, and Ministries of Transport and Education. They have been able to measure real reductions in driver offending (speeding and not wearing seat belts) as a result. A particular innovation is a campaign organised by the BKA to capture children’s stories on road safety and the road environment. These powerful messages are currently being shown to the public to raise awareness of road risk faced by vulnerable road users.

Irina Potyakina talks about the road safety achievements of the BKA in Belarus

The Georgian Partnership for Road Safety played a key role in organising the meeting in Tbilisi. Gela Kvashilava, Chairman of the PfRS, reported on their work in Georgia to improve road safety culture and practice. They have been actively enlisting partnerships from civil society, with the media, public authorities and local communities to build support for needed reforms. They have also worked with donors such as the EBRD and AGL in Adjara or the World Bank in the Kakheti region to reduce road risk in villages involved in major infrastructure development projects. PfRS has also been promoting more sustainable transport by measuring and exposing levels of pollution caused by vehicle emissions and encouraging safer biking.

In Kazakhstan EASST partner Arsen Shakuov of Common Road NGO has been a prominent mediator between the public, Road Police and drivers. Arsen has developed the concept of a ‘Safety Car’ borrowed on a rolling basis from different car dealerships in Kazakhstan and kitted out with road safety messages. Working with the Road Police, the Safety Car travels the country providing road safety materials and information for drivers, reporting on road hazards and being a focus for publicity and media reporting. As a result, Arsen is seen and heard frequently commenting on needed improvements in road user behaviour and road safety practice. Arsen has also spearheaded an effective campaign to protect parking for disabled drivers and promote the rights of disabled road users.

New to the EASST family in 2015 – Arsen Shakuov of Common Road NGO

Chinara Kasmambetova, EASST’s partner in Kyrgyzstan, tracked the rapid advancement of the NGO, ‘Road Safety,’ she founded with EASST support just three years ago. She is now a member of the Government Commission on Road Safety and has been invited to join the selection panel for recruiting new road police officers. Chinara has played a visible and active role in promoting children’s safety, championing a safer road environment for pedestrians and working with disabled road users – in particular blind people – to give added voice to their needs. She is also working closely with public stakeholders to improve road safety practice – most recently forming a new City Advisory Group for Road Safety in Bishkek with the Mayor’s Office and traffic police.

In Moldova the ACM has been hyperactive in carrying out projects across all areas of road risk. EASST partner Tatiana Mihailova reported on the results of the SENSOR programme in Moldova. Working with EuroRAP, Make Roads Safe Hellas and technical experts, the ACM has recently presented a new Road Risk Map of the national roads in Moldova, highlighting areas where improvements are most needed. The ACM have carried out many initiatives to improve road safety for children, including their popular interactive puppet theatre, ‘Alex in the City,’ that has been traveling around Moldovan schools, and the development of a number of new Road Safety Playgrounds supported by the Estonian Government. Other campaigns have included ‘Don’t Drink and Drive,’ promoting fleet road safety and – jointly with EASST, Kier Group and the EBRD – distributing high-vis protections and child car seats to villages involved in Safe Villages programmes.

Tatiana Mihailova reports on the ACM’s successful activties in Moldova

The Young Generation of Tajikistan, with support from EASST, has been carrying out road safety programmes reflecting their interest in public health issues affecting young people. Seventy per cent of the population of Tajikistan is aged below 30, so the high risks facing young people should be a mainstream concern. Naimjon Mirzorakhimov, YGT’s President, has been working closely with the local stakeholders focussing on the Firdavsi District of Dushanbe – an area of the nation’s capital with high levels of road casualties, particularly among children. YGT has developed a training package for Young Road Inspectors, along with speed reduction strategies aimed at local drivers, working jointly with the Road Police. There have promising results in reduced casualties in the area, with plans to do much more.

EASST’s partner in Ukraine, Yegor Kalashnikov and the Road Safety Support Foundation, reported on the benefits of working with corporate partners, public authorities and local communities to deliver road safety programmes. Their awareness raising campaign, ‘Parents/Drivers,’ has been sponsored by Shell and with active support from the State Road Police. Training was carried out in Donetsk in 2013-14, and is now in its second phase working in Kharkiv Oblast. With EASST and FIRE AID, RSSF is now embarking on a programme of specific road safety training for fire and emergency services through the Lviv Institute for Fire Safety – the training centre for the national fire & rescue services. RSSF has also been instrumental in hosting a national road safety Forum, developing joint recommendations for improving road safety targeting Ukraine’s public authorities.

EASST Chair Lord Dubs and Trustee Kate McMahon 

Lord Dubs of Battersea, EASST’s Chairman, and Kate McMahon, EASST Trustee, both expressed their admiration for the energy and commitment of local partners in reducing road casualties. Many examples were given of sharing experiences cross-border between partner organisations, developing projects based on models tried and tested in other countries (for example, the Safe Villages projects carried out in Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Georgia), and mobilising new partnerships and resources to promote road safety.

Emma MacLennan, EASST Director, reflected on EASST’s development as an effective network of local road safety experts since establishment in 2009. Trustees’ aims had all been achieved, and EASST’s network and reach continues to expand. Other staff reported on EASST’s plans for the future development – Dmitry Sambuk on development of an EASST on-line course in occupational road safety in partnership with the International Road Transport Union (IRU) and Cranfield University; Julie Utting on FIRE AID’s progress, work in Moldova and plans for Tajikistan; and Emily Carr on EASST’s programme of road safety equipment donations and plans new educational packages for children and young people.

Many new ideas grew from the Tbilisi meeting, including proposals for project mentoring, sharing good practice and materials for project evaluation, regional initiatives and a joint project database. These suggestions will be taken up, developed and reported on over the coming year. All EASST partners agreed on a future strategy that includes much deeper, joint working along with a wider reach, with the core aim of achieving effective casualty reduction in the region.