WHO provides evidence to Parliamentary Transport Committee in Ukraine
The Parliamentary Subcommittee on Road Safety (part of the Parliamentary Transport Committee), Verchovna Rada, organized a roundtable on road safety, which was attended by 40 stakeholders on 24 November in Kiev. Participants were welcomed by the Chair of the Subcommittee, who informed participants that Ukraine was developing a road safety strategy to align it with global and European best practice. Road safety is one of the priority areas of the Prime Minister’s office, and interministerial council approval is needed, including the appointment of a lead body to coordinate intersectoral road safety activities. Participants included members of parliament, representatives from different ministries and members of several nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) concerned with road safety.
The national action plan on noncommunicable diseases, in which road traffic injuries are a priority area, was presented on behalf of the Ministry of Health, emphasizing the health sector’s contribution to governance, education and monitoring. A representative of the WHO Regional Office for Europe outlined European facts on road safety and introduced WHO’s Global status report on road safety 2015, highlighting the fact that legislation and practice in Ukraine need to be modified to align them with best practice. The Director of the State Enterprise Ukrainian Medical Centre for Road Safety and Information Technologies of the Ministry of Health set out the current state of road safety in Ukraine, with an overview of the mortality and morbidity data. There were also presentations from the traffic police, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Regional Development, which described the challenges faced in Ukraine. The Policing Adviser from the EU Advisory Mission described a project to train policemen in traffic safety, which focused on better governance, with the use of tablets to issue fines and capacity-building to control speed and drink–driving.
Several NGOs also made presentations, including Vision Zero, which reported research showing that seatbelt-wearing prevalence was only 15%, that 90% of vehicles exceeded 60 km/h at crossroads and were thus in violation of the speed-limit law, and that public transport vehicles also exceeded the speed limits. A legislative review presented by the Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law showed that the existing legislation sets no clearly measurable and enforceable limits on drink–driving. Further, current legislation on the urban speed limit of 60 km/h only allows police to issue penalties if drivers travel at 80 km/h or above, and penalties for not wearing seatbelts and for drink–driving are too lenient (at 3 euros and 8 euros, respectively).
A lively debate took place on the need to improve legislation and enforcement practices. Recommendations included:
- the appointment of a lead agency with the authority to coordinate intersectoral actions of road safety, with the allocation of a budget to do so;
- better and accessible information systems on road safety practices and crashes;
- changes in legislation, with 50 km/h limits in towns and blood alcohol content limits of less than 0.05 g/dl and of 0.02 g/dl for novice drivers;
- laws on child restraints in cars;
- more severe penalties for infractions of the law, commensurate with the severity of the offence;
- building police capacity and resources to improve enforcement; and
- addressing road infrastructure to ensure bicycle and pedestrian safety.
In conclusion, participants were promised that these suggestions would inform debates in parliament on the national road safety strategy.
The policy dialogue workshop was preceded by a half-day Training, Educating and Advancing Collaboration in Health on Violence and Injury Prevention (TEACH-VIP) workshop on 23 November, where the modular curriculum was introduced to about 20 participants with a training background from medical schools, public health, paediatrics and police colleges. TEACH-VIP 2 materials in Russian were distributed to participants. At the close of the meeting participants agreed to use these materials for their future work.