According to statistics provided by the Road Police of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Kyrgyzstan, speeding was number one cause of road traffic collisions in 2016. Accounting for 2138 crashes, where 376 people died and 1946 were injured.

Many lives could have been saved if drivers had kept adequate speed! Speed violation is observed everywhere. For instance, just a few days after a new surveillance camera was installed in Sokuluk, a small district just outside of Bishkek, over two thousand speed violations had been recorded!

Speed limits are not taken into account by drivers. But why does this happen? The main reasons are the lack of appropriate penalties; the possibility of dodging penalties; unintentional or deliberate violations; illegal licensing; and corruption.

In early 2016 within the TRACECA Road Safety II project, Road Safety Kyrgyzstan, along with the local Road Police, conducted a small project aimed at preventing speeding. We selected the repaired section of Zhukeev-Pudovkin Street in Kyrgyzstan’s capital city, Bishkek, near a school where a 40 km/h sign had been installed, and observed whether this limit was being obeyed. When drivers violating the rate of speed were being stopped, almost 95 per cent didn’t want to confess their guilt.  Moreover, everyone absolutely did not want to be charged so they started trying to call friends and family. The drivers confidently believed that they would not have to bear any responsibility. They were yelling out in spite: “what right have you to…,” “I’m not the only violator” …

“I’m not the only violator” – yes, there are thousands of violators. That’s why the Government should be able to hold everyone accountable. Hope still remains on the results of the “Safe City” project, when finally intrigues and courts are over. But “road criminals” do not wait.

Within this project, a survey of 100 drivers of route and private taxis in Bishkek was also conducted to study the behavior of drivers and the reasons for speeding. Participants in the survey admitted that one of the main problems in the city is speeding. Here are just some of the answers that characterize the situation today:

To the question “Do you drive under the speed limit in the suburban roads?” just over half responded, “Yes, I do” – 51%. Of the remainder, 34% per cent admitted to exceeding the speed limit due to a ‘lack of time’. The problem of time management arises. However, ‘lack of time’ does not serve as an excuse for causing injuries and fatalities! This response was repeated in the next question.

To the question: “Why do you think drivers violate the speed limit?” 38.3% answered “Because they are often in a hurry.”  As a result we can conclude that the rush threatens one’s own and others’ health and lives. In addition, 32% of responders thought that drivers do not always observe road signs. Another problem of road infrastructure arises. Unfortunately we lack the infrastructure to help drivers drive safely.

To the question: “What should be done to prevent speeding?”  43% suggested promoting safety by releasing audio/video and printed materials. 15% thought fines should be increased. Drivers themselves agreed that there is almost no promotion of safe driving, no information on TV, radio, and in newspapers. Especially now, when the deaths and injuries have increased.  Where is the state propaganda and preventive work in this area?

According to research conducted by the Australian Transport Council, when driving at 50km/h, it takes at least 27s to react and stop. When driving at 60km/h, it takes 36s to stop, when at 70 and 80 km/h it takes 46s and 57s respectively. Not surprisingly, therefore, with frequent excesses of speeding at 70-80 km/h in Kyrgyzstan, we have very bad consequences. Both for us, and for other innocent drivers and their families!

Civil activists join the #slowdown campaign for UN Global Road Safety Week 2017At present, the “Safe System” approach is being adopted around the world, where safe speed is one of the four components along with safe roads and roadsides, safe transport and safe road users.

The WHO Speed ​​Control brochure describes two types of speed: extreme and inappropriate speed, where both are life and injuries are at risk. Furthermore, speeding accounts for 50 per cent of crashes in low and middle-income countries.

The following actions are made worldwide to manage speeding: construction and modification of roads, such as roundabouts and speed bumps; speed limit development according to the functions of roads; enforcement of speed limits; development of technologies in cars as an extra tool for tracking speed; and awareness increase through campaigns.

It is known that the lower the speed, the less kinetic energy the driver or passenger has. When there is a collision, one part of this energy dissipates into other objects, and the other part hits the person, causing severe trauma. In this case, the human body is not able to absorb more energy than it has. Therefore, the less the energy, the less damage it causes to a body.

From 8-14 May 2017, events dedicated to the UN Fourth Global Road Safety Week will be held in Bishkek. We call on all road users to join the #slowdown campaign and not to violate the speed limits both during this week and every other day to save lives.