EASST’s Belarusian partner, the Belarusian Auto Motor Touring Club (BKA), has previously focused its road safety campaigning on the protection of pedestrians. In May 2012, the BKA focused its attentions on another risk group – learner drivers – in the context of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-20 which aims to save 5 million lives during its span.
Statistical data in Belarus confirms that inexperienced drivers are more like to be involved in a crash than experienced drivers. This is because learner drivers are unprepared to face and control difficult road situations. The BKA identified the cause of this to be the discrepancy between what a learner driver is taught at driving school and what a driver experiences on the road in real life.
As a result of this, the BKA has enlisted the support of the Extreme Driving School to help to address this problem. The Extreme Driving School, headed by Sergei Ovtchinnikov, has been teaching drivers of varying experience for over 15 years and provides pupils with basic driving skills as well as teaching the psychology and art of driving.
Following a crash, Sergei Ovtchinnikov launched the school. “This accident showed me that even easy road situations can have very difficult consequences”, says Sergei. He turned this negative experience into a positive project, establishing a driving school where people can not only learn how to drive but will also learn to understand their cars and be able to solve any road situation.
The school is very popular in Belarus and all programs are designed by Sergei and his team for Belarusian road conditions. The most popular courses are: the course “70” for new drivers who have just finished a driving school, the course of extreme driving which aims to teach drivers to control difficult road situations, and, finally, the course of driving art for those of a very high skill level. The course usually includes theory and a practical part, which enables the drivers to deeply hone their techniques. Drivers of all course receive a certificate which is valid throughout the country and approved by the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus.
With support of the School, the BKA has added road safety elements to the school’s beginner’s theoretical driving course. Special attention is now given to the use of seat belts and child restraints. During a presentation to the learner drivers, the BKA provided detailed information on the variety of child restraints for children of different ages as well as providing information on the importance of wearing seat belts and how they can save lives. The school and its students expressed their willingness to support the Decade and to participate in further BKA actions. In return, the BKA is going to continue a road safety course in the school.
The BKA also focused its efforts on the “70” course – one of the most popular, aimed at those who have completed a driving school. “Most drivers are not ready for real road conditions, that is why they come to our school to have training with their own cars in difficult road conditions,” commented Sergei. The course is popular with women who are concerned about being unable to deal with dangerous road situations. The BKA and the school are looking to develop a better developed training area for participants of this course, including a wet road platform and seat belt slide.
The BKA expresses its sincere thanks to Sergei Ovtchinnikov and his School of Extreme Driving for sharing the day of 11th May 2012 with the club and for making a step forward in road safety improvement in the Republic of Belarus.