Georgian Roads Kill

Speeding down twisting mountainous roads towards Stepantsminda, dangerously overtaking on corners, drifting in lanes on Rustaveli Avenue: Georgian drivers have a reputation for reckless driving and for “overtaking as a pastime.” The government is slowly taking steps to tackle the issue in Georiga.

On April 16, the Minister of Internal Affairs Giorgi Gakhraia presented a new road safety plan which will be implemented by the end of the year, along with the new social campaign ‘For More Life’, in hopes of tackling dangerous driving in Georgia. The launch event was attended by various government representatives, including the Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Maia Tskitishvili and Tbilisi Mayor Kakhi Kaladze.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that 6,608 individuals lost their lives on Georgian roads over the past 10 years, whilst 85,946 were injured. In 2018, 459 people were killed in road accidents, stated Gakhraia at the launch event.

The majority of accidents were caused by drink driving, speeding, not adhering to traffic signs, and lane violations, reported the Interior Ministry.

In 2018, the government already began introducing a range of measures in an attempt to improve road safety and minimize bad driving habits in Georgia.

Firstly, the Ministry of Internal Affairs implemented more cameras to capture traffic violations. In 2017, there were just 170 cameras monitoring roads, whereas now this figure stands at 2,600. In addition, many patrol police inspectors now carry cameras, and driving under the influence of drugs was made illegal.

These measures have had “some positive outcomes,” reads a statement by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. “In 2018, the number of deaths in road traffic incidents decreased by 11%. The percentage rate of speeding has also decreased.” Nonetheless, the number of traffic accidents increased from 2017 to 2018 from 6,079 to 6,452.

Despite small improvements, Georgian roads remain the most unsafe in the region. In 2017, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released data showing that Georgia had the highest rate of road accident deaths in Europe. The new plan includes various proposals to continue the positive trend in decreasing road accidents.

By the end of 2019, the Ministry of Internal Affairs will install 5,000 cameras across Georgia, including 2,100 Smart cameras which measure speed averages. In addition, there will be more unmarked police patrols that will work to sanction drivers who violate traffic rules, especially in major cities.

Aside from practical measures, “legislative amendments to ensure road safety will be implemented” to tighten sanctions for certain violations, reports the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

However, for road conditions to truly improve, it is essential for drivers to change their mindsets and habits. “The involvement of public participation and awareness is especially important in the process of road safety,” stated Gakharia.

On the morning of April 10, Tbilisi residents awoke to find upturned damaged vehicles displayed on stilts on Tamarshvili Street, Chavchavadze Avenue, and Vazha Pshavela Street. The installation is the first project of a new social campaign ‘For More Life’. The campaign aims to encourage drivers to change their driving habits through videos, banners, installations and Facebook campaigns.

“The goal of the social campaign is that each citizen will once again think about the consequences of violating traffic rules,” reads the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ statement. Time will tell if the new measures and social campaign will continue to improve road safety in Georgia.

By Amy Jones

Image source - World of Roads

18 April 2019 16:55