At The Savoy Hotel in London on 10th December 2013, the Moldovan Deputy Minister for Internal Affairs Serghei Diaconu received the prestigious Prince Michael International Road Safety Award 2013 on behalf of EASST partner the Automobile Club of Moldova (ACM).

The ACM was awarded for its role in a project that has led to considerable reform of the Moldovan Road Police. In May 2010, at the request of the Moldovan Government, a study exchange was organized by EASST and the ACM between specialists on road policing from Moldova, the UK and Georgia. The Moldovan government viewed the operation of the Road Police – and in particular problems of corruption and poor enforcement – as a major obstacle to implementing an effective National Road Safety Strategy. Without proper police enforcement, even the most comprehensive road safety legislation will fail to have an impact. Corruption can destroy public support for road policing. It consumes resources and distorts data on road incidents and casualties.

Deputy Minister Diaconu (right) and Emma MacLennan (left) are presented the award by HRH Prince Michael on behalf of the Automobile Club of Moldova

The UK-Moldova-Georgia police exchange and subsequent report was developed by a partnership of stakeholders in order to shed light on this problem and propose solutions. It was the first initiative of its kind to be organised in Moldova, where the ACM played a leading role in organising and facilitating the visit. As a result of the exchange visits, the Moldovan authorities gained an insight into ways to reform and professionalise the Road Police in Moldova and tackle endemic police corruption. With the encouragement of the ACM and its former President Serghei Diaconu, a major programme of reform is now being implemented with significant results. Just 2 years since publication of the report, results include reductions in reported corruption, improvements in public confidence in the road police and the introduction of new and effective road safety enforcement campaigns.

Results include:

  • Reform of the Driver Examination Centres in major cities, making the ‘purchase’ of driving licences virtually impossible
  • Appointment of Serghei Diaconu as Head of Road Police in August 2011, as Deputy Chief of Police in 2013, and as Deputy Minister for the Interior in August 2013. His mission has been ‘Zero tolerance of violations; Zero tolerance of corruption.’
  • A detailed functional analysis of road policing, resulting in a reorganisation of Road Policing
  • The creation of a National Patrol Inspectorate for rapid response, operating in 3 regional centres with centralized management of all patrol crews
  • A programme of Community Policing, including road safety sessions in schools
  • New enforcement strategies, including the ‘White Nights’ initiative to cordon off areas for random breath-testing:- Initially found 12-14% of drivers drunk
    – Since implementation, reduced to 3%
  • From July-November 2012, public confidence in Road Police rose from 9% to 14%
  • After creation of National Patrol Inspectorate the confidence rating for May 2013 is more than 20%.
  • Since January 2013, Moldova has seen a 6% decrease in the number of crashes, a 35% decrease in fatalities, and a 10% decrease in injuries.

While the reform of road policing is in the hands of the Moldovan government, the role played by the ACM in facilitating this and creating the context for reform has been substantial – the result of many years’ commitment to road safety. In 2009 the ACM, in cooperation with EASST, launched the Make Roads Safe Moldova campaign that succeeded in reinvigorating the dormant National Road Safety Council and enabling the participation of civil society in its work. Since then actions and projects implemented by the ACM have included high-visibility campaigns (working with the road police) to improve zebra crossings and pedestrian safety; public information campaigns on seat belts (in Comrat resulting in increases in seat belt use among drivers by 4%, and by front passengers by 24%); actions to highlight the needs of disabled road users; training on occupational road safety for public and private road fleets (resulting in the creation of a fleet road safety Working Party in Moldova); and many other initiatives. The ACM are implementing the first road safety project carried out under the auspices of the UNDP ‘Confidence Building Measures’ programme to create dialogue in Moldova and the break-away region of Transnistria – a landmark project that has been highly-praised.

Recognition of the ACM’s role in reducing road deaths in Moldova is warmly welcomed by EASST who continue to work closely with the ACM and Deputy Minister Diaconu on numerous projects and campaigns.