Don’t break the lifeline! Life before speed!

Improving road safety in the Russian Federation

May 2013

Two regions of the Russian Federation are taking part in the Road Safety in 10 Countries Project. For three years now, the regions of Lipetsk and Ivanovo have campaigned to reduce the impact of the principal risk factors for road traffic injuries.

Lipetsk and Ivanovo, two regions of the Russian Federation are taking part in the Road Safety in 10 Countries (RS10) Project, coordinated by a consortium of partners including WHO (the other countries are Brazil, Cambodia, China, Egypt, India, Kenya, Mexico, Turkey and Viet Nam). For three years now, Lipetsk and Ivanovo have campaigned to reduce the impact of the principal risk factors for road traffic injuries.

Roadside Trick or Treat

Master media/P. Polurotov

Do you wear a seat belt? Do all your passengers wear one, and is your child secured in a restraining device? Do you consistently observe the speed limit? If so, there will be no problem if you get stopped by a traffic officer. In fact, you will automatically get a bar of chocolate - a “treat” that is handed out to motorists in Lipetsk and Ivanovo provinces as part of the Roadside Trick or Treat campaign. Lawbreakers, however, can expect an on-the-spot fine.

Over one million road traffic deaths worldwide

According to the recent WHO Global status report on road safety, 1.24 million people still die in road traffic crashes each year; 53% of them are car drivers or car passengers, and 33% pedestrians. Some 26 500 of these occur in the Russian Federation where most deaths were among young men aged 16-39. Every year more vehicles take to Russia's roads: in 2010, the country had more than 43 million registered vehicles.

The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution proclaiming the Decade of Action for Road Safety, which was launched in May 2011. In this context the Russian Federation agreed to take part in the Road Safety in 10 Countries (RS10) Project funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies. The project is coordinated by the provincial authorities with extensive input from the national motor vehicle inspectorate, health facilities, the media, the Russian Red Cross and other voluntary organizations supported by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Interior of the Russian Federation. It receives technical support from a range of partners including WHO, the Global Road Safety Partnership, the Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit and the World Bank.

“The WHO Office in the Russian Federation is coordinating implementation of this Project. We support the regions in their social marketing efforts, through public information campaigns and by tracking injury and mortality trends nationwide. We are also reviewing existing legislation and suggesting improvements, particularly providing assistance to road traffic injury victims,” says Elena Yurasova from the WHO Country Office.

Two regions of the Russian Federation are participating in the international road safety project

Lipetsk and Ivanovo are piloting efforts to prevent road traffic deaths and injuries through a range of preventive measures such as keeping to speed limits and wearing seat belts. The outcome of the project will be used to establish an effective road safety programme that can be scaled up nationally at a later date.

Public information campaigns go hand in hand with law enforcement measures and scaled-up medical assistance for road traffic injury victims. Johns Hopkins University is supporting the monitoring of the results.

Large-scale social action campaigns are bearing fruit

“The project give local people in Ivanovo province hope that road safety can improve. We can look forward to the future with confidence.”

Vitaly Shikin, administrative director of Lipetsk province

The project started in Lipetsk in November 2010 with a campaign to encourage safety belt use. A similar campaign was launched in Ivanovo province in May 2011. Both provinces have since carried out large-scale social action campaigns focusing on safety belts, child restraining devices and keeping to speed limits. A series of shockingly honest clips featuring the slogan “Don’t break the lifeline” showed the consequences of not wearing a safety belt. The subsequent “Life before speed” campaign was a continuation of this theme.

“The basic aim is to make the public less tolerant of people who refuse to abide by the rules of the road. The results are striking: in the first six months of his year alone, the number of road deaths has fallen by 18% relative to the same period last year”, says Vitaly Shikin, administrative director of Lipetsk province. “The Project initiatives have been well-targeted, large-scale and effective, and we have received huge support from the provincial governor and the consortium partners, including the WHO Office”.

Campaign logo
WHO Office in Russia

Last summer an unusual inmate took up residence in Lipetsk zoo: an old car in a cage, with a little sign saying “Common road hog (Conductor inconsideratus communis)”. This tongue-in-cheek stunt was designed to stigmatize poor drivers who endanger their own lives and those of others.

Campaigns such as Santa for Road Safety, Seat Belts for Dads, Human Speed Signs, Your Seat Belt Ticket to the Movies, and Quick-fire Tests have also proved a big success. Sixteen awareness-raising campaigns have been conducted in Lipetsk and the surrounding area in the past two and a half years. And more than 800 postings, news items and features about the Project have appeared in local and national media.

Road user participation encouraged

Ivanovo province has focused on mobilizing road users through the Social Contract campaign, which enlists motorists and pedestrians to support and promote road safety.

Vladimir Grishin offer child restraints for the children in an orphanage, Ivanovo, Russia
Courtesy of Ivanovo regional douma

Schools have also been extensively involved , through competitions for the best drawing, poster and video on the theme of “Your Road”, “the Road to School Campaign” and monthly lessons on road safety. A hall of remembrance dedicated to road traffic victims was inaugurated in Ivanovo in 2011, where people who have lost family and friends in road traffic incidents can come and pay their respects.

“The municipal authorities have ceremonially presented child restraining devices to low-income families and children’s homes”, says Vladimir Grishin, a local parliamentarian and Project coordinator in Ivanovo province.

Confidence in a safer future

Research by Johns Hopkins University indicates that, in the two years since the project was launched, safety belt use in Lipetsk province jumped from 52% to 74%. It went up to 83% in Ivanovo. Well over half of all children in Ivanovo were protected by child restraining devices and more than one third in Lipetsk.

The second stage of the project is focusing on speed limits. The number of motorists driving at the regulation speed has increased from 45% to 63% in Ivanovo province and from 53% to 69% in Lipetsk.

In 2013, both regions plan to repeat the campaigns focusing on these two risk factors, and to pay special attention to the safety of pedestrians – the most vulnerable group of road users in the Russian Federation.

“The project give local people in Ivanovo province hope that road safety can improve. We can look forward to the future with confidence,” says Vladimir Grishin.