Seat belt campaign launch event reveals low levels of seat belt use in Bishkek

Children's Road Safety, Kyrgyzstan, News, Road Safety Governance and Capacity Building

EASST partners PA Road Safety Kyrgyzstan have today launched a new campaign to raise awareness of the importance of wearing seat belts and using child car seats with the support of the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) Special Shareholders Fund and Representative Office in Bishkek.

The launch event included a presentation of the results of a baseline study conducted in December 2018 and February 2019 in Bishkek. The study included observations of nearly 9000 vehicle occupants looking at the rate of seat belt and child restraint use in Bishkek.

Among the findings it was revealed that only 61 per cent of car occupants in Bishkek wear seat belts. In the back seat the percentage of people wearing seat belts is as low as 6.3per cent, and no child car seats were seen to be used in either the front or back seats. The results also found that young people were slightly less likely to be belted as front passengers, but more likely as back passengers. While, it was observed that women are more likely to be back seat passengers, only around 1 in 5 drivers are women, and therefore less likely to be belted.

In addition to the observational study, PA Road Safety conducted preliminary focus groups with 56 participants to find out more about the attitudes and perspectives of the general public towards seat belt and car seat use in Bishkek. Some of the reasons given as to why they might not wear seat belts included: trust in the driver not to crash, inconvenience when making frequent stops and, in a minority of cases, a belief that seat belts are unsafe.

Speaking at the conference and giving their support for the campaign were the EBRD Head of the Central Asian region, Neil McCain as well as representatives from the Mayor’s Office and Republican Traffic Police.

EASST’s partner Tatiana Mihailova of the Automobile Club of Moldova (ACM) also attended to present how Moldova has been addressing this issue. A particular focus of Tatiana’s presentation was the development of an online child car seat donation platform which is providing child restraints to low income families. This is particularly relevant in the Kyrgyz Republic where too the economic cost of car seats can be prohibitive in their use.

The campaign launched today will run throughout the year as part of a wider project to support safe and sustainable roads in Bishkek. The campaign seeks to challenge misconceptions about seat belts and car seats, and encourage their increased use in the city.