Transforming road safety in Uralsk

Kazakhstan, Road Safety Governance and Capacity Building

Last week our EASST team returned to Uralsk in the Western Kazakhstan Region to continue our project supported by Shell, ENI and local partners Gauhar zhol to improve the area’s road safety strategy and save lives on the road.

The visit opened with the inaugural meeting of the Working Group on developing a regional 5-year road safety strategy starting from 2020. The meeting, chaired by EASST’s Serghei Diaconu, was attended by local authority representatives as well as representatives from the NGO community and concluded with unanimous agreement on the structure the strategy should take outlining a holistic safe system model.

This was then followed by a series of site visits attended by EASST Expertise road engineer Alaster Barlow who conducted road safety audits at six high-risk sites across the city. Alaster’s initial assessments were shared with the local traffic police and representatives of the Highways Department, both constructors and traffic managers, to determine known problems and propose potential solutions which would be ensure maximum safety while remaining appropriate to the region and acceptable to local road users. EASST, Shell and ENI will continue to work together with local stakeholders over the coming months to provide the best possible solutions to make these roads safer for everyone.

In keeping with the holistic approach to road safety, the visit also included training programmes for local road police and NGOs.

The programme for local road police was conducted in the town of Aksay by Serghei Diaconu who as former Head of the Traffic Police in Moldova was responsible for wholesale reform of road policing in the country with tremendous results. Serghei’s training, the first of three sessions, focused on building the capacity of police officers to better communicate with road users, imparting upon them the value of community-based policing approaches that focus on prevention and modern enforcement operations using examples and best practice from neighbouring countries. The next training session, which will take place in the Autumn, will focus on strategic planning and data collection.

NGOs are hugely valuable in promoting and maintaining road safety, and have a critical role to play in keeping the issue on the policy agenda. As such, Serghei along with Tatiana Mihailova of the Automobile Club of Moldova also held a high-level interactive training session for local NGOs and other stakeholders in Ukralsk. The training focused on core road risks such as speeding, drink driving and seat belt use and why addressing them is important. The session also included the current issues and trends within the global road safety movement as well as highlighting examples of international best practice that have succeeded in reducing road casualties and fatalities. Over two-thirds of the participants felt that the training significantly raised their knowledge of road safety issues, particularly in terms of pedestrian and driver behaviour.

The visit concluded with a high profile ‘flash-mob’ in an area near a local pre-school where the road is particularly dangerous. The event was conducted with the support of the Education Departments of the West Kazakhstan Region and Uralsk and included local police and volunteers from youth-led NGOs. The aim of the flash mob was to draw attention to the impact of speeding on pedestrian casualties. The volunteers, along with the project team, lined up along the side of the road holding speed limit signs of 30km/h – the globally recommended speed for urban areas and the speed at which the probability of a pedestrian surviving in a collision is as high as 90%. The group also distributed thematic flyers and stickers on the dangers of speeding to drivers. These activities around speeding will continue throughout the summer, with road safety educational activities for children being held at summer camps and a survey on speeding and driver behaviour.

The project will continue over the next year to help the Western Kazakhstan Region develop a comprehensive and practical strategy for managing road risk.