Azerbaijan prioritises road safety around schools, supported by FIA Foundation
High level stakeholders met in Baku to discuss the urgent need to prioritise road safety around schools in Azerbaijan with the FIA Foundation, FIA, and EASST.
The meeting was organised by the National Automobile Club of Azerbaijan (AMAK) with support from the FIA Foundation. The meeting provided a unique opportunity for government stakeholders to meet with both the Director of the FIA Foundation, Saul Billingsley, and FIA Head of Road Safety & Global Advocacy, Luca Pascotto, to learn from international experiences, explore new opportunities, and set new targets aimed at improving road safety around schools in Azerbaijan.
Tatiana Mihailova, representing EASST partner the Automobile Club of Moldova (ACM), shared a regional perspective on school zones road safety improvements. She set out how Moldova achieved changes through amendments to its National Road Regulations which now mandates 30km/h as the default speed limit around schools and other areas where vulnerable road users and traffic mix.
The Azerbaijan state road safety programme is due for review in 2024 making the meeting a timely opportunity to discuss new ways forward and set targets for the next five years. Despite investments in road infrastructure and improved enforcement of traffic rules, road fatalities in Azerbaijan remain much higher than in most European countries. In 2019, 821 people died as a result of a road traffic collision in Azerbaijan and many more were injured, with a socio-economic cost of around $ 807 million, the equivalent of 2% of the country’s GDP, according to recent World Bank research. Child pedestrians are amongst the most vulnerable of all road users. Ensuring that they have a safe and healthy journey to and from school should be an urgent priority for the new State Program on Road Safety.
AMAK President, Vusal Rajabli, presented encouraging results of their pilot school zone transformations in Sumgayit City. Infrastructure upgrades implemented over the past two years at School No. 2 and School No. 12 have shown reduced speeds and improved road safety as well as being warmly welcomed by the local community.
The meeting demonstrated a great deal of local interest and momentum in improving school zone road safety. The State Road Police were very supportive, offering their cooperation and championing a multi-sector approach to tackling road risk around schools. This was echoed by Tarlan Safarov, Head of Traffic Management Department of the Azerbaijan Ground Transport Agency, who shared their experiences of trialling low speed school zones in Baku and creating more pedestrian zones in the city centre.
Over the next year, with funding from the FIA Road Safety Grants programme supported by the FIA Foundation, AMAK will be using Star Rating for Schools to showcase further the impact that low-cost infrastructure can have on reducing road risk as they continue to advocate for 30km/h speed limits in school zones to be rolled out across the country.