Less than a quarter of Ukrainian drivers wear seat belts, according to a nationwide survey conducted by Vision Zero NGO and the Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law as part of the ‘For Safe Roads’ Campaign in autumn 2019. 24.4% of drivers use seat belts, which is almost identical to the results of the last year’s survey. According to the Campaign’s experts, in order to improve the situation, it is necessary to toughen penalty for ignoring seat belts, which today is a mere UAH 51, to strengthen police control and to conduct systematic awareness raising campaigns.
The ‘For Safe Roads’ Campaign conducted survey during the autumn of 2019 in 22 regional centers, as well as in Severodonetsk and Mariupol. Campaigners surveyed 31,501 drivers. The survey was conducted to determine what percentage of drivers in Ukraine actually uses seat belts and whether it has changed in the previous year. The ‘For Safe Roads’ Campaign has been conducting such a survey annually since 2017 using the same methodology – observations – in accordance with the recommendations of the World Health Organization.
According to the survey, Kyiv became the leader of the ranking – 51% of drivers in the capital wear seat belts. The top 5 cities include Cherkasy (40%), Lviv (37%), Chernivtsi (34%) and Chernihiv (33%).
However, in most of the surveyed cities, the level of fastening is extremely low and does not reach as much as 30%. The worst indicators were observed in Mariupol, Severodonetsk and Kropyvnytskyi – here more than 85% of drivers ignore seat belts.
“The level of seat belt use has not changed year on year due to the fact that the fine still amounts to UAH 51. MPs of the last convocation failed the draft law to increase the fine twice, first in December 2018 and then in June 2019. We hope that the new parliament will eliminate this mistake and adopt changes in the legislation that will save the lives and health of Ukrainians”, said Taras Shevchenko, Director of the Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law.
According to the ‘For Safe Roads’ Campaign, the level of seat belt use in Ukraine is the lowest among European countries.
“If you look at the WHO report for 2018, the level of belt use in Ukraine can’t hold a candle to that of the neighboring countries. No country on the European continent has such low compliance with seat belt legislation. Therefore, it is quite natural that Ukraine has one of the highest road death rates,” said Viktor Zahreba, study leader and founder of Vision Zero NGO.
The reasons behind ignoring seat belts are drivers’ ignorance of their importance and the extremely low fine, which is the lowest in Europe. For citizens, it serves as a signal that the use of seat belts is optional and formal. Therefore, drivers do not build a permanent habit of fastening their seatbelt. At the same time, according to the WHO, a fastened seat belt could save 50% of fatal road accident casualties.
At the same time, the level of belt use in the surveyed towns is much lower than in regional centers. The ‘For Safe Roads’ Campaign conducted a trial count in Melitopol, Drohobych, Znamianka and Izmail. According to its results, the average level of fastening was a mere 18%.
It will be recalled that in 2018, the ‘For Safe Roads’ Campaign initiated a draft law No. 492, which provided for an increase in the fine for ignoring seat belts from UAH 51 to UAH 850. The draft law sparked a public debate on the importance of seat belts, which resulted in a significant increase in the level of their use.
However, the Verkhovna Rada of the previous convocation failed to pass the draft law in the second reading, and then failed to consider a similar resubmitted draft law No. 10131. The draft law provided for an increase in fines, which, combined with awareness raising campaigns, would encourage drivers and passengers to fasten their seat belts.
See the full text of the report on the survey results by the link.