Russian hour

Road Safety Performance, National Peer Review: Russian Federation
OECD Observer

When Irish government minister Liam Lawlor died tragically in an accident while being chauffeured along Moscow’s Leningrad Shosse in October 2005, local newspapers pointed out that high-speed crashes are common along such boulevards due to the often reckless driving of Muscovites. At a time when the rest of Europe tightens its seatbelts, Russia is only beginning to wake up to its alarming traffic accident statistics.

The European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) reports that among its member countries, the Russian Federation has the highest road death rate, with 35,000 people dying on the road each year. This amounts to 24.59 deaths per 100,000 population, compared to 14.66 in the US, 10.16 in France and 5.92 in Sweden.

The report Road Safety Performance: Russia, an unprecedented peer review and first-time collaboration for the World Bank, the World Health Organization and the ECMT, suggests that the increase in traffic accidents in Russia, as in the rest of eastern and central Europe in the 1990s, may be partially linked to economic growth. As well as excessive speeds, it points to alcohol, refusal to wear seatbelts, and weak law enforcement. Inadequate infrastructure is also blamed. The head of the Russian traffic safety department noted in 2004 that “every fourth kilometre of the road network requires improvement”.

The problem is predominantly urban, and more than 12% of the crashes, injuries and fatalities in the Federation occur in and around Moscow. Road Safety Performance: Russia claims that serious traffic accidents could be avoidable with support from the very top. One example they could follow is France, where President Jacques Chirac introduced a national road safety plan in 2002 to reduce excess speed within cities and on the autoroutes and to cut the country’s high fatality rate. Thanks to digital video cameras, automatic number plate recognition and a system for automatic consultation with remote vehicle and driver licensing registries, as well as public awareness, traffic deaths fell by 21% in 2003. The trend has continued to improve since.

ISBN 9282103552

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See also Short, Jack (2004), “Road safety: Making roads healthy”, OECD Observer No. 243, May

©OECD Observer No 255, May 2006

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