Ground-breaking project on disability and road safety honoured at 2019 PMIRSA

Belarus, News, Safe and Inclusive Mobility

We’re delighted to announce that today our EASST partner the Belarusian Auto Moto Touring Club (BKA) has won a 2019 Prince Michael International Road Safety Award for their ground-breaking project supported by EASST on disability and road safety.

For thirty years His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent has played a leading role in supporting improved road safety both in the United Kingdom and around the world.  Prince Michael International Road Safety Awards recognise outstanding achievement and innovation in road safety worldwide.

Road injury is not just a cause of disability – people with disabilities are also more at risk on the roads. The WHO World Report on Disability says “people with disabilities are at a higher risk of non-fatal unintentional injury from road traffic crashes”. Sustainable Development Goal 11.2 calls for “safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons.” Despite these facts, little attention has been given to developing specific road safety educational materials for people with disabilities.

The BKA have been working towards this goal since 2016. In 2017, they conducted ground-breaking research into the road safety problems faced by disabled people in Belarus. They found that due to poor levels of accessible infrastructure and a lack of consideration on the roads by drivers and others, two-thirds of disabled people face difficulties in making basic journeys. Sadly, “social attitudes” and lack of understanding were reported as the main barrier to safe inclusive mobility in the country.

According to the Belarusian Ministry of Labour there are approximately 500,000 people with disabilities in Belarus of which 30,000 are children. The aim of our project with the BKA has been to help these people navigate roads and transport systems safely through road safety education, as well as influencing decision makers to encourage long-term development of accessible infrastructure.

An advocacy campaign has raised awareness of the report’s findings through sharing stories of disabled people and the road safety challenges they face. Last year the BKA produced a short film based on the report’s findings which was broadcast on TV as well as in the offices of local public transport authorities, and across social media. They also hosted an international roundtable, uniting stakeholders from government, transport sector and civil society – including people with disabilities – for dialogue about making roads and cities safe. As part of UN Global Road Safety Week this year, the BKA set up an exercise where representatives of the Traffic Police, the Union of Transport Workers, the Ministry of Transport, and media agencies accompanied people with disabilities around Minsk to witness the obstacles they face on a daily basis. In partnership with the Belarusian Association of Assistance to Children and Young People with Disabilities (BelAPDIiMI), the BKA produced a film addressing the challenges faced by people with disabilities which was submitted to the UN and Ministry of Information “Inclusive view” contest seeking out coverage of inclusion and disabilities.

In addition, they have been implementing a programme of inclusive road safety education for children and parents. The BKA have adapted the EASST Road Safety Education Pack to include the needs of children with disabilities, developed in cooperation with BelAPDIiMI, and involves the delivery of joint educational events with the Traffic Police involving both disabled and non-disabled children at pre-schools across the country. There had previously been no dedicated educational resources for children and young people with disabilities on road safety in Belarus. These road safety sessions have created an open atmosphere, enabling children to work together and build confidence and trust. Parents of all the children involved have reported that they feel safer and more confident on the road as a result of the sessions.

The programme has also gained approval from the Ministry of Education and has been recommended for inclusion in a programme of extracurricular activities nationwide.

Throughout the project, the BKA has formed a close relationship with BelAPDIiMI, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the Road Traffic Police, media agencies, the UN Office, schools, and the Transport Union. The project has united these stakeholders for the first time, enabling dialogue between decision makers and people with disabilities. As a result, the Road Traffic Police in Minsk have included inclusive road safety awareness activities in their 2019 plan.

The project has succeeded in raising wider awareness of the issues faced by people with disabilities in terms road safety. For the first time, road safety teaching resources adapted for children with special educational needs are available for use in Belarus. This version of the EASST Road Safety Education Pack has been introduced to 35 schools to date, reaching 700 children. Teachers are involved directly in the delivery of these sessions, as well as Train the Trainers sessions, so that they can continue the project in the long term. One teacher, Victoriya Chemelevskaya, was even featured as a road safety leader as part of the UN Global Road Safety Week for this work.

The BKA have become ardent champions for disability rights. As a result of their engagement with BelAPDIiMI, they are employing staff with disabilities in their roadside assistance call centre and working with BelAPDIiMI beneficiaries regularly on road safety projects. With the support of FedEx Express Europe, EASST is currently working together with the BKA and BelAPDIiMI to transform unused high-visibility clothing received through the EASST Donations Programme into ‘mascots,’ or tags for school book bags, and children’s coats to promote visibility and safety on the roads. The items will be distributed to children in areas where night-time visibility is poor, particularly in the rural regions of Belarus.