581. That’s how many people were killed in road accidents in Georgia in 2016. What should we do?
A young lady died after 3 vehicles crashed into each other on Rustaveli Avenue on January 24. The young lady was travelling by taxi the moment the accident occurred.
The eyewitnesses say, the accident happened at the ML-vehicle (Mercedez-Benz M-Class) driver’s fault. The latter was under the influence of alcohol and was driving the car at excessive speed.
Rustaveli Avenue is a central street of Tbilisi, the city’s most crowded place, where vehicles should move at a limited speed.
Car accident statistics in Georgia is really alarming.
According to the MoI data, 6, 939 road accidents were reported in Georgia last year. Overall 581 people died and 9,951 were injured as a result of road accidents.
These figures are increasing from year to year.
Why is Georgia among Europe’s leaders as to high rate of car accidents and what should be done to ensure road safety?
Reason 1 – driving at excessive speed
All studies show that driving at excessive speed is one of the main causes of road accidents.
Regulation: Instead of solving the problem through toughening the traffic ticket fines, from January 1, 2014, the government, on the contrary, made the legislation even more loyal to those, driving at excessive speed.
Earlier, a drive was imposed a US$100 fine for excessive speed driving, whereas today this sum is different and a fee imposed for non-payment of traffic ticket fine has been also reduced (GEL150 instead of GEL500). Whereas in case of failure to pay both, a traffic ticket fine and a fee, a person is deprived of his/her driver license only for the period of 6 months, rather than for 2 years (as it used to be earlier).
Top it all, if you have money, you can freely drive at excessive speed, since it will cost you just GEL500 to get your seized driver license back.
Reason 2 – wrong-way maneuvering
This implies not using turn signals when changing lanes, crossing continuous line, overtaking in restricted areas.
Regulation: illegal parking of vehicles on carriageway, as well as improper starting and/or maneuvering the vehicle is subject to a fine amounting to GEL50.
Reason 3 – driving under the influence of alcohol
7,4% of road accidents happen due to driving under the influence of alcohol. According to the 2014 data, 262 car accidents happened at the drunk drivers’ fault.
30,174 driver license were seized due to drunk driving throughout Georgia in 2016.
Regulation: in case of drunk driving, a driver is seized his driver license for the period of 6 months.
Reason 4- pedestrians’ wrong behavior
160 pedestrians died and 1,998 were injured in 2015.
In 2014, 145 pedestrians died and 1,993 were injured; in 2013 – 125 died and 1,687 were injured; in 2012 – 160 died and 1,509 were injured. 90 people died and 3,834 were injured as a result of road accidents in country’s capital in 2015.
Regulation: under the current stipulations, a pedestrian shall be imposed a GEL10 fine for crossing the road in restricted areas. Though any pedestrian reading this article would agree that, more often than not, this regulation doesn’t work.
Reason 5- faulty vehicles
According to the MoI data, 44% of cars in Georgia’s vehicle fleet are over 20 years old. The age of 46% of cars ranges from 11 to 20 years; only 10% of citizens possess the vehicles that are 1-10 years old and only 3% out of them are the brand new cars.
Regulation: Mandatory technical inspection of vehicles was abolished in Georgia in 2004. Consequently, no one is committed under the law to check the condition of vehicles driving on Georgia’s roads. As it is set forth in the Road Safety Law, mandatory technical inspection of vehicles should have been restored from January 1, 2013. However, this process has been suspended till the end of 2017, because the country turned out to be unprepared for such procedures.
A new regulation, that provides for considerable increase in imported car prices (except for the brand-new ones), took its effect in 2017. Excise tax on 5-year old vehicles has remained the same, whereas that on the vehicles aged 0-4 has been reduced allegedly to facilitate updating of country’s vehicle fleet.
Reason 6 – underdeveloped road infrastructure
There isn’t a single traffic light on Rustaveli Avenue, the city’s central street. Apart from the fact that the lack of traffic lights is inconvenient for pedestrians, who have to cover kilometers until they get to an underground crossing, it also encourages the drivers to freely ride at a high speed on the city’s most overcrowded avenue.
Regulation: Following the recent road accidents on Rustaveli Avenue, the Facebook users have intensified their efforts, demanding to install traffic lights on the capital’s central avenue.
Reason 7 – ‘some other reason’
Georgia MoI statistics prove that there are certain places in Georgia, in general, and in Tbilisi, in particular, where road accidents occur more frequently.
- 4 highways in Georgia with the highest car accident rate as of 2015: Tbilisi–Senaki–Leselidze highway (594 car accidents), 2. Ponichala–Marneuli–Geguti highway (98 car accidents); 3. Tbilisi-Bakurtsikhe-Lagodekhi (94 cases); Senaki-Poti-Sarpi (74 cases).
- 5 central roads in Tbilisi with the highest car accident rate (as of 2015): 1. Kakheti expressway (127 car accidents); left embankment (107 car accidents); 3. David Aghmashenebeli Lane ( 98 car accidents); 4. Right embankment (87) 5. Tsereteli Avenue (83 car accidents).
Excessive speed is named as the main reason for car accidents. However, where excessive speed is not the case, it is indicated that a car accident happened for some ‘other reasons’. The problem is that no one actually studies those ‘other reasons’. Road accidents don’t always happen through the drivers’ fault. A car crash could happen due to poor road infrastructure, road surface, inappropriately installed road signs, traffic lights, etc.
Regulation: Experts say, it is necessary to set up a corresponding road audit agency that will inquire into the causes of road accidents, otherwise it will be impossible to eliminate them.