Two bloody road accidents – in Kharkiv in autumn and in Kryvy Rig in spring – forced the Cabinet to inspire with the problem of safety on the roads, but any of the government initiatives is hardly capable of raising its level.

The Kharkiv tragedy occurred in October last year. The Lexus SUV, run by a 20-year-old student, Olena Zaitseva, flew to a crossroads at high speed. Already there, collided with Volkswagen with 49-year-old businessman Gennadii Dronov at the wheel, who moved to the yellow light; SUV was thrown back on people, expecting to cross the road. Five died, and six suffered.

A terrible accident in Kryvy Rig, during which a minibus, a Mazda car, whose driver was moving along a secondary road (the traffic light was working in the blinking yellow light mode, when traffic at intersections is regulated by road signs), and a bus collided, occurred a week ago. Its bloody “harvest” – nine dead and two and a half dozen injured.

After a terrible accident in Kharkiv, the Cabinet of Ministers reduced the maximum allowed speed for the cars from 60 up to 50 km/h in the settlements. The Kryvy Rig road accident has pushed the Government to abolish the… yellow light of the traffic light. However, ordinary Ukrainians, who are not only one year at the wheel and experts say in one voice that none of these events has anything to do with increasing road safety.

Wail – first in social networks, and then in the media – began after the post on the Facebook page of the Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Yurii Lavrenyuk appeared that a government commission “for a technical investigation of an accident in Kryvy Rig” was created, which included a lot of people from the National Police to the representatives of Ukravtodor. And that the Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, having heard the arguments of Mr. Lavrenyuk, who headed this commission, “instructed the Ministry of Infrastructure, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the National Police, Ukravtodor and Ukrtransbezpeka to work on the issue of abolishing the yellow flashing signal of the traffic light and, if necessary, bring the issue to the Government session”. According to him, this is a very proper initiative, because if we analyze the last resonance accidents, then “all of them are connected with the passage to the yellow flashing signal of the traffic light”.

Distorted statistics and the lack of a culture of driving

After a terrible accident in Kharkiv, the Cabinet of Ministers reduced the maximum allowed speed for the cars from 60 up to 50 km/h in the settlements. The Kryvy Rig road accident has pushed the Government to abolish the… yellow light of the traffic light. However, ordinary Ukrainians, who are not only one year at the wheel and experts say in one voice that none of these events has anything to do with increasing road safety.

Wail – first in social networks, and then in the media – began after the post on the Facebook page of the Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Yurii Lavrenyuk appeared that a government commission “for a technical investigation of an accident in Kryvy Rig” was created, which included a lot of people from the National Police to the representatives of Ukravtodor. And that the Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, having heard the arguments of Mr. Lavrenyuk, who headed this commission, “instructed the Ministry of Infrastructure, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the National Police, Ukravtodor and Ukrtransbezpeka to work on the issue of abolishing the yellow flashing signal of the traffic light and, if necessary, bring the issue to the Government session”. According to him, this is a very proper initiative, because if we analyze the last resonance accidents, then “all of them are connected with the passage to the yellow flashing signal of the traffic light”.

Distorted statistics and the lack of a culture of driving

To find out why the yellow eye of the traffic light is guilty and whether it really is guilty, we decided to communicate with both motorists and people, who, because of the official duties, had or have to do with the traffic. As the ex-head of the Department of traffic police of Ukraine Anatolii Sirenko recalls, the yellow light in our country is a traffic light signal that prohibits movement, but does not allow it. “And if our people do not understand this and start moving to the yellow signal, thinking that they may already go, then the problem is not in the yellow light, – he explains in a commentary for Opinion. – It’s global and is called the culture of driving on the roads”.

According to Anatolii Petrovych, who at one time was involved in the investigation of road accidents, the most troubled months of the year in our country are April and September, and the tragedy in Kryvy Rig is an additional confirmation. “To reduce the level of accidents in such periods, – Anatolii Sirenko continues, – it was necessary to carry out a set of measures, aimed at raising the awareness of drivers of the country in advance: to warn and explain, where necessary. To reduce the accident rate, you need to work in a complex, analyze the statistics, the causes of accidents, do everything to ensure that drivers carefully follow the traffic rules”.

The idea to abandon the yellow light is not the most successful, a lawyer, the expert on traffic accidents Vadym Volodarsky also assured Opinion. “Pay attention, there is no yellow light in pedestrian traffic lights, – he explains, – then why is it needed in automobile traffic lights? And it is for those, who are already at the crossroads, so they could finish the maneuver. That is, it is a transitional period for all directions”. Already from this we can conclude that the problem is not in the yellow light, but in how it is interpreted by the driver. Those, who at one time learned well the road traffic rules in Ukraine and follow them, have no problems with this. But those, who just bought it, can afford to jump on the yellow light.

Let’s suppose we abandoned the yellow light. We will not talk about the cost of reprogramming all traffic lights today, although this issue, given the shortage of necessary specialists, is also important. In this case, there are two options: either we switch from green to red immediately (and vice versa), and then there is not this gap to complete the maneuver, and this will start to cause collisions, or we turn on red for both directions. Now so many drivers ignore traffic lights, and then they will start to go on a frank red light. Do you think traffic safety will improve from that?”

In fact, the lawyer emphasizes, whose opinion on this issue coincides with the position of the ex-head of the traffic police of Ukraine, the problem is that we do not have objective statistics on the causes of accidents. “The reason for this phenomenon, – the lawyer believes, – is the extremely low quality of the investigation, corruption in this area, and the specificity of our traffic rules. I explain: when in a particular case not only the culprit is incorrectly set, but also the cause, the case falls into the wrong department of statistics. How does this happen? A simple example. A pedestrian jumped out in the wrong place, he was shot down. Criminal proceedings are against the driver. The case already falls in the statistics section of the road accident due to the fault of drivers, not pedestrians, although the emergency situation was created by a pedestrian.

The driver is accused of not observing a safe speed or that he did not brake in time, this is paragraph 12.3 of the Rules for road traffic, a section on speed. Our case falls into the department of statistics of accidents, which occur because of speeding. The same applies to a number of other cases. That is, in order to determine what should be the measures to combat accident, first you need to understand what the true causes of this accident are. And for this, it is necessary to restore order in the investigation, and then in a year or two it will be possible to obtain the result”.

Ignoring the rules together with impunity

What is the conclusion? Yellow light is a signal of a traffic light, which, on the one hand, prohibits movement, and on the other hand, it allows you to complete a maneuver. That is, if the driver has already left for the intersection and the traffic light turned yellow, he must pass this intersection as soon as possible. But the one that stands on the red light and for it lights up yellow, has the right to move from its place only when it turns green for it. Failure to comply with this requirement of traffic rules – one of the causes of the collision in Kharkiv. “I watched how they began to investigate the road accident in Kharkiv with Zaitseva, – said the former head of the traffic police of Ukraine, – the approach was not entirely correct, but then people, who understand these things interfered in the matter and the investigation went in the right direction: the car of Dronov had no right to start traffic until it was completed by other road users, even if Zaitseva finished the maneuver already in yellow”.

As for the flashing yellow light, it turns on at night, when there is no intense movement. In this case, the Traffic Rules provide for the priority of road signs. If they do not exist, then the rule of interference to the right, that is, the driver should give way the one, who is from the right side (the passage of unregulated intersections). “There is nothing terrible in that the traffic light operates in a flashing yellow mode, – Anatolii Petrovych says – traffic lights are often programmed in this way in cities, somewhere from 12 am to 5 or 6 am. In this case, one should be guided by signs and markings, and those, who are traveling along a secondary road must pass those, who drives along the main one”.

As they say, the same old story: it’s not the yellow eye of the traffic light that is to blame, but the lack of discipline of our drivers, which is formed by impunity. After all, the main causes of accidents with severe consequences, including human victims – speeding, wrong passage of intersections and violation of maneuvering rules when overtaking or when rebuilding from the band to the lane. The tragedy in Kharkiv and Kryvy Rig is a violation of the rules for the passage of intersections. Whether drivers adhere to traffic rules or ignore them – and no matter what the light is on the traffic light.

Anatolii Sirenko, relying on many years of experience, explains that if it is a crossroads, it is important not only compliance with the Road Traffic Rules by all its participants, including pedestrians, but also a number of other factors. For example, experts of road service enterprises (in Kyiv, this is the CE “Center for organizing traffic”) should clearly define the algorithm of the traffic lights at each intersection. And if for one side – the one that ends the movement – the yellow light has already lit up, for another the green should not yet light up. In our country, according to Sirenko, there is also a problem with cadres: there is a lack of not only those specialists, who install and program traffic lights, but also those, involved in road marking. And even unreasoned road markings can become a factor creating emergency situations.

Country of unreasoned experiments

I could not resist and also wrote a post on Facebook about the future fate of the yellow traffic signal. And, people ask, is there somewhere in Europe a two-eyed car traffic light? “What should we lose? A country of unreasoned experiments, – journalist, former editor of the newspaper “Segodnya” and “Novaya” Oleg Nypadymka said. – Now I have calculated: I’ve traveled by car to 14 countries, and there is not even one where the traffic light was without yellow light. Despite what is happening in Ukraine, I’m scared to imagine what else they will start reforming”.

I could not resist and also wrote a post on Facebook about the future fate of the yellow traffic signal. And, people ask, is there somewhere in Europe a two-eyed car traffic light? “What should we lose? A country of unreasoned experiments, – journalist, former editor of the newspaper “Segodnya” and “Novaya” Oleg Nypadymka said. – Now I have calculated: I’ve traveled by car to 14 countries, and there is not even one where the traffic light was without yellow light. Despite what is happening in Ukraine, I’m scared to imagine what else they will start reforming”.

In the opinion of Anatolii Sirenko, it is necessary not only to monitor the observance of laws – it is important to prescribe them so that it would be comfortable for road users. And regardless of whether you are a driver or a pedestrian.

But it’s hardly necessary to introduce norms that will create certain inconveniences. “When I was studying in America, – Oleg Vyinogradov, a science fiction writer, shares his experience with Opinion, – and they showed us how preparations are being made to hang an unconventional road sign on the initiative of the public.

The algorithm of action is approximately the following: first, to study the issue, municipal funds are allocated. Then people are asked whether they need it or not. Further, they consult, and not formally, as we often do with specialists (psychologists, road builders, motorists, not forgetting pedestrians), and only after that they conduct several experiments, observe the result, and make decisions on the basis of conclusions, is there a need in such a sign or not.

To change The Road Traffic Rules so seriously without a preliminary study of the issue, here in Ukraine, we also cannot. But will we study carefully? For 10 years of work in our legislature, I have never seen at least some preliminary analysis of any question. So if you ask the initiators, how much the level of injuries and accidents will decrease after the introduction of such an innovation, do you think will there be an answer? But this is the most important. As for me, this innovation can lead to hundreds of new accidents and injuries, and even deaths”.

.And most fully and clearly spoke about this government idea – also on his Facebook page – the general director of the All-Ukrainian Association of Automobile Importers and Dealers Oleg Nazarenko: “Well, in the country, where, in the absence of the traffic police, tens of thousands of accidents involving cars with European license plates, after which many owners of “Euro-plates” just run away; in which there is no photo-fixation, and many cars are without the auto insurance policy at all, start talking about the “important” problem of canceling a yellow traffic light signal? Can you imagine how many billions of hryvnias will go for this on the scale of Ukraine, and how much the “firms”, close to such a “cancellation” will get?”

Mr. Nazarenko, like most Ukrainians, believes that these billions are better to be used for road repairs. Why to spray budget funds for years “for the replacement and re-equipment of traffic lights”, removing the yellow light, if possible “in the Cabinet in 5 minutes to adopt changes to the traffic rules, prohibiting any traffic to the yellow traffic signal as well as red?” And in order not to repeat such tragedies as in Kharkiv, to establish such penalties that will make violations extremely unattractive. That is, it is necessary to educate the culture of driving and respect for the laws, with the help of police to take off those, who are under the drugs or in alcoholic intoxication from the roads, to repair roads, and not squander money to fight the yellow eye of traffic lights. Moreover, for a normal driver yellow light is also a priori red. For whom the traffic rules are not written, – they do not care.

By Larysa Vyshynska

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