Loading

On 5 October 2015, at the presentation of the National Road Safety Strategy and its action plan, the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, Dimitri Kumsishvili, stated: "Road safety is one of the top priorities for us. Unfortunately, the number of car accidents is rising annually whilst we have taken the obligation, with the signature of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, to decrease the number of car accidents. We hope that today’s meeting will be successful and every finding which is given in the strategy receives due consideration."

FactCheck

took interest in the situation with respect to road safety in Georgia.

According to the information of the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia, the work to draft both the National Road Safety Strategy and the action plan for 2015-2020 was started in March 2015 within the framework of the East-West Highway Project Four (EWHIP4) with funding from the World Bank. The National Road Safety Strategy aims to introduce and gradually implement a new and efficient model of contemporary road safety. The document was prepared by the Road Safety Working Group (RSWK) which included different representatives of governmental bodies, non-governmental organisations and the World Bank.

According to the data of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, the number of car accidents has been on the decline from 2008 until 2012. However, beginning from 2012, the number is indeed on the rise. There were 4,486 car accidents in 2011, 5,359 in 2012, 5,510 in 2013 and 5,992 in 2014. According to the first six months of data (January-June) for 2015, there have been 2,869 car accidents countrywide.

Of note, however, is that as compared to 2008, the number of car accidents per 100,000 registered vehicles is considerably lower. In 2008, this number was 980, in 2009 it was 840, in 2010 it was 860, in 2011 it was 620, in 2012 it was 660, in 2013 it was 630 and in 2014 it was 622. The fact that the number of car accidents per 100,000 registered vehicles has generally decreased whilst the absolute number of car accidents is on the rise can be explained by the expanding car pool in Georgia. As we know, the number of registered vehicles in Georgia is rising annually.

Together with the rising number of car accidents, the number of injured individuals as a result of car accidents is also increasing. This number was 6,638 in 2012 and 8,536 in 2014. The number has already reached 4,310 in first six month of 2015.

The number of deaths as a result of car accidents has been decreasing as well. There were 867 deaths registered as a result of car accidents in 2008 whilst last year this number dropped to 511. The number of deaths in the first six months of 2015 is 284. Of note, however, is that according to the 2013 data of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD),

with its 118 car accident-related deaths per 1 million inhabitants, Georgia has one of the most negative statistics in Europe. Only Montenegro, Azerbaijan, Albania and Russia have statistics worse than Georgia.

Graph 1: 

Car Accidents in Georgia in 2008-2014

image001 Source: Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia

Of note is that one of the principal causes behind car accidents in the last year was the violation of the speed limit (1,391 cases). Driving under the influence of alcohol caused 262 car accidents whilst another 4,339 cases were recorded owing to different causes.

In the first six months of 2015, 604 car accidents were caused by speed limit violations, 112 car accidents were caused by driving under the influence of alcohol and the remaining 2,153 car accidents were attributed to different reasons.

The Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development has underlined in his statement that Georgia has taken certain obligations to ensure road safety within the framework of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement. The EU-Georgia Association Agreement requires the implementation of four principal conditions with respect to transport: technical, safety, social and financial conditions. These regulations envisage the instalment of speed limiting mechanisms on vehicles used for both international shipping and domestic transportation and the determination of the maximum parameters and weight for these particular vehicles. Additionally, issues related to obtaining driving licences also need to be regulated. Moreover, measures should be taken to modernise the transport system and ensure the protection of the rights of every road user including people with limited abilities, pedestrians and children (source: eugeorgia.info).

Conclusion

According to the statistics of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, the number of car accidents has been on the decline from 2008 until 2012. However, this number has been on the rise since 2012. There were 4,486 car accidents in 2011, 5,359 in 2012, 5,510 in 2013 and 5,992 in 2014. According to the first six monthsof data (January-June) for 2015, there have been 2,869 car accidents countrywide. The number of people injured as a result of car accidents is also increasing but the number of deaths caused by car accidents is on the decline.

Georgia has indeed taken certain obligations vis-à-vis road safety (upon the basis of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement). These regulations do not explicitly require a decrease in the number of car accidents but include those technical, financial, social and legislative aspects which will enhance Georgia’s road safety and, therefore, result in decreasing the number of car accidents.

FactCheck concludes that Dimitri Kumsishvili’s statement is TRUE.