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A TRACECA road safety action planning workshop opened on 3 February 2015 in the Congress Hotel in Yerevan. The participants of the workshop were members of international organisations, government, and the public sector. TRACECA (Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia) is an extensive and long-term cooperation programme in the field of international transport supported by the EU. It includes 13 countries: Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Romania, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. The workshop will last four days, during which various experts will share their experience on road safety with the participants.
ARS_0585Armenia is one of the founding members of TRACECA – it has been one since 1993. TRACEA has supported many projects implemented in Armenia, including this workshop. Road safety is a growing problem in Armenia on global level.
The Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Hoa-Binh Adjemian, underlined the importance of this project, citing the two car accidents he had encountered on his way to the workshop: ARS_0629‘The EU always supports Armenia and Armenian citizens in very important sectors. Here in Armenia, about 500 people die in car accidents every year, and 5,000 are injured. Car accidents have a huge economic impact here in Armenia, but it’s something that can be solved – we have proven it in Europe with many countries reducing accidents over the last ten years. In Eastern Europe they have fallen by half. This reduction is not just about money, it also needs awareness, people understanding how they are driving, how to take care of themselves and others, and people with driving licenses knowing the laws of the road. The EU is happy to support projects in this sector – we are certain this one will reduce suffering and contribute to improved road safety. It is not just a matter of institutions, it’s a matter of public awareness’.
Gagik Grigoryan, Head of Staff of the Ministry of Transport and Communication and TRACECA National Secretary in Armenia, talked about the great steps taken towards improving road safety in the country, stressing the importance of the initiative to reduce accidents: ‘The road safety project is very important for the Armenian government, because it directly affects the public’s welfare and safety.
The Armenian government has demonstrated its commitment to improving road safety by working with international organisations, and across government agencies and the public sector. The EU’s continuous assistance is very important for creating favourable conditions for the modernisation of this sector and the ability to respond to challenges’.
After the official opening ceremony and remarks, Alan Ross, Team Leader of the project, introduced the methodology and tools how to reduce car accidents: ‘The project will share experience, not just tell Armenians what to do. We will work with you and with Armenian experts. We bring an additional knowledge and experience of what other countries have done in the similar situations, which will be beneficial’.
ARS_0649Experience from other regions demonstrates that road safety issues can be tackled effectively if appropriate road safety management and coordination structures are established, and proven solutions are implemented to reduce road crashes and casualties. Road safety is a serious problem in Armenia which deserves more attention than it has received in the past. Of particular importance is that the failure to address road safety effectively and to invest in its improvement is resulting in huge annual costs that inhibit Armenia’s social and economic development. This failure also leaves citizens exposed to unnecessary and largely avoidable risks of death or injury. A particular focus for TRACECA is to assist individual countries, and the region as a whole, to implement agreed regional road safety action plans developed by government.