UNGRSW action in Kyrgyzstan focuses on increasing seat belt and child restraint use to save lives.

Kyrgyzstan, News, Road Safety Governance and Capacity Building

During the sixth global meeting of the Global Alliance of NGOs for Road Safety last month we were honoured and delighted to have been awarded the 2019 FedEx Road Safety Award.

With the award we received a small grant which we have allocated to our partners PA Road Safety, Kyrgyzstan and the National Road Safety Council of Armenia to promote road safety in their countries.

In Kyrgyzstan our local partners have been using their allocation of the grant funds to launch a campaign promoting the use of seat belts and child car seats in the capital Bishkek as part of the fifth UN Global Road Safety Week (UNGRSW). The campaign is focused on the World Health Organisation (WHO) Save LIVES package aim of ‘establishing and enforcing regulations related to seat-belts and child restraints’.

Earlier this year, as part of a project being implemented with EASST and the EBRD to support safe and sustainable roads in Bishkek, PA Road Safety conducted a study into the use of seat belts and child car seats in the city. The study, which involved an observational survey of over 9000 vehicles as well as focus groups and vehicle inspections, found that only 61 per cent of car occupants in Bishkek are regularly wearing seat beltsIn the back seat the percentage of people wearing seat belts is as low as 6.3 per 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.

Using a seat belt increases the chance of surviving in a crash by up to 50%. It is therefore a vital element in reducing road risk. The campaign has built on this year’s UNGRSW theme of leadership to target key opinion formers including, singers and celebrities, political and municipal leaders, police leaders and officers, members of parliament, headteachers and university rectors, and others gathering in a public shopping centre in Bishkek to pose for a ‘safie’ with the UNGRSW speech bubble messages and make a pledge committing to using seat belts and child car seats and encouraging others to follow their lead.

Member of Parliament Dastan Bekeshev also launched PA Road Safety’s child car seat donation and loan scheme by handing a car seat to the Baitasov family, who have seven children including 3 under five years old. In EASST countries one of the biggest barriers to using car seats is the financial cost. This particulary affects families with more than one child. Across the region therefore our partners have been establshing car seat donation and loan schemes to provide low-income families with vital protection for their children.

On why we need leaders to #SpeakUp, PA Road Safety say:

“Sustainable leadership in road safety is essential for saving lives. The progress we can make depends on the political will of the decision makers. We need a demonstration of leadership.”

In Kyrgyzstan there is currently only draft legislation requiring child restraints for children up to age 12 in cars. The police say this will likely become law soon, but no date has been specified. The UNGRSW campaign will act as a pre-cursor to a larger campaign which will be implemented throughout the summer to encourage and ensure the introduction of the new law. As part of the project, supported by the EBRD Special Shareholders Fund, PA Road Safety and our EASST partners from Moldova, the Automobile Club of Moldova, will work closely with police to ensure they have the capacity and equipment they need to enforce the new law when it comes into effect.