For half a year the maximum permissible speed in our settlements is 50 kilometers per hour, but it did not significantly affect the accident rate with serious consequences. A traffic accident at one of the crossroads of Kharkiv caused the decision to reduce the speed limit by 10 kilometers. A terrible accident involving the cars of Olena Zaitseva and Gennadii Dronov took place last year on October 18, it took 6 lives, and five more people were injured.
However, when the Government introduced this innovation to the drivers, first of all, they referred to European practice: they say that such a speed regime is in most countries, and as a result, they have a much lower level of accidents, especially with serious consequences. Therefore, they are going to – after the introduction of the system of automatic fixation of violations of the Rules of Road Traffic – “educate” Ukrainians with high fines. However, experts note: accidents, to which lead quite different factors, the speed is often blamed for. And the fight against accidents can only be effective if the causes are correctly identified.
It seems that the Parliament had to work on bills that somehow try to streamline the situation on the roads. Not so long ago, they gathered to strengthen the responsibility for ignoring safety belts in cars and motorcycle helmets, hitting hard at the unconscious drivers with hryvnia. Opinion has written about it in the material “The national peculiarity of road safety or the state of roads, our mentality and the helplessness of drivers” on June 25 this year. Now people’s deputies on the proposal of their colleagues Oleg Lyashko and Ihor Mosiychuk decided to seriously take up those, who allow themselves to drive drunk.
The drunk should not be at the wheel
Therefore, the other day in the session hall of the Verkhovna Rada the bill №7064 on amending some legislative acts of Ukraine was adopted. The document proposes to supplement the Criminal Code of Ukraine with the article “Violation of the rules of road safety or the operation of transport by persons, who drive a vehicle in a state of intoxication or in a state caused by the use of drugs or other intoxicating substances”. DUI is a bad idea, so prison term from 8 to 10 years and the withdrawal of the driver’s license for the same period, if such a driver has committed an accident with victims or people, who had difficult injuries, seems a well-deserved punishment.
Under the current legislation, the driver, sitting at the wheel in a state of intoxication, runs the risk of paying 10,2 thousand UAH fine. If within 5 years, he is caught drunk at the wheel twice, the second time he will have to pay a fine of 40,2 thousand UAH and for 10 years will lose his driving license. If a driver causes an accident, in which a person dies or people injured, such violations are now punishable by imprisonment from 3 to 8 years. At the same time, the driver’s license also could be taken for three years. If a drunk driver causes an accident in which several people die, he or she is threatened with imprisonment for a period of 7 to 12 years, and a driving license is seized for three years.
“Every day more than 10 people die in road accidents in Ukraine and more than a hundred get injuries,” the explanatory note to the bill says. “According to these sad indicators, our state occupies one of the first places in Europe. And 37% of the total number of road accidents are caused by accidents involving drivers, who are drunk-driving”. And international experience in ensuring road safety, according to the authors of the draft law, shows that one of the simplest and at the same time the most effective ways to get drivers to comply with the requirements of the Traffic Rules is to develop a system of effective punishments.
The fact that drunk drivers are a huge problem of our society, who cannot be allowed to drive, believes one of the ex-leaders of the now ex-Department of Automobile Inspection of Ukraine, who talked to Opinion. “I, being the Chief of the Traffic Police of Ukraine, the General, never let myself drive under the influence of alcohol,” the former Head of the Traffic Police said. “Therefore, I support any initiatives to punish such drivers: if you are drunk at the wheel – this is a crime. This is not discussed. Non-alternative measures of punishment – up to the prison”.
True, the conclusion of the Main Scientific and Expert Department of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine indicates that it is worthwhile to work on the draft law, only because of “… the explanatory note to the draft does not provide sufficient reasoning, that the position of our state in one of the first places in Europe by the number of deaths in road accidents involving drunk drivers has developed due to the “softness” of criminal responsibility, which requires an increase in the severity of punishment and, in particular, the application of sanctions provided for by law”. In addition, in Ukraine, the permissible dose of alcohol in the blood is 0.2 ppm, and in most European countries, 0.5 ppm is considered acceptable, says Serhii Gudzynsky, the First Deputy Head of the Department. And the highest figure is in the UK, where they do not violate the law if they are at the wheel with an alcohol level in the blood of up to 0.8 ppm.
The braking distance formula
The human rights activists also convinced that the matter is not in the softness of the current legislation at all. So, Auto-lawyer Vadym Volodarsky, commenting on this topic for Opinion, notes that one of the biggest problems in the fight against the number of accidents is that their reasons are often not quite right. And, as they say, a lot of cases are written off as the speed. Therefore, we decided to compare the accident statistics with January 1 of this year, when the speed in settlements was limited by the Government resolution of up to 50 kilometers per hour, and for the same period last year.
The first deputy head of the Department of Patrol Police of Ukraine, Oleksii Biloshytsky told to Opinion that in general over the past year, 162,526 road accidents were registered. For 5 months in 2018, there were 57,184 road accidents, in which 988 people died and 1,046 were injured. Last year over 63,372 road accidents were committed in the same period, in which more than 1,000 people have died.
“The greatest number of accidents,” Oleksii Biloshytsky says, “was recorded in the Kyiv region, as well as in Odesa and Kharkiv regions. The reasons for the accident are known for a long time, this is a violation of maneuvering rules (this year 41.83% of all accidents), exceeding safe speed (this is 24.41% of accidents) and disregarding the distance (this reason was 23.88% of accidents for 5 months). Last year, in violation of the rules of maneuvering, the total amount was 36.97% of the road accident, for non-observance of the distance – 22.26%, for speeding – 17.34%. However, I want to note that for 5 months of this year, if we compare with the same period, we have 10% fewer traffic accidents”. According to the same lawyer, the main cause of accidents, as evidenced by life itself, is first of all the violations by drivers of priority and maneuvering rules.
And now let’s try to analyze the statistical figures, promulgated by the Department of Patrol Police of Ukraine. Of course, we are taking in the account January-May 2017 and January-May of this year, when the allowed speed has already been reduced by 10 km/h. So, for 5 months of this year, really, there are 10% fewer accidents than last year. But at the same time, last year the share of accidents that occurred due to speeding up is 17.34%, and this year for speeding up it is up to 24.41% of the road accident, that is 7% more. One cannot ignore the fact that the speed that they were driving with last year, is the same that they are driving now. And, interestingly, even the cars of the patrol police do not comply with the speed regime. Recently I had to observe as along the street Borshchagivska in Kyiv, near the taxi, the arrow of the speedometer of which ranged at around 75 km/h, literally whistled a patrol car.
Therefore, these figures make us wonder whether the speed is really to blame for the number of accidents that we have. The Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov, Arsen Avakov, arguing at the time, the need to reduce the maximum permissible speed in urban areas by 10 km/h, resulted in a simple, in his opinion, comparison: “At a speed of 60 km/h, the stopping distance is 55 meters, and the probability of a lethal outcome at collision with a pedestrian – 82%. But at a speed of 50 km/h, the stopping distance is 40 meters, and the probability of deaths will be reduced to 20%”. According to the Minister of Infrastructure Volodymyr Omelyan, this clearly indicates that in all settlements the maximum permissible speed should be exactly 50 kilometers per hour.
If someone taught physics at school, they should understand that, firstly, braking and stopping ways are, as they say in Odesa, two big differences. Stopping consists of the braking way and that piece of the road that the car passes through until the driver reacts to the need to stop. And secondly, if you analyze open sources, which talk about the formula for determining the braking distance, then there you can find a slightly different number. Proceeding from the braking distance formula, it is clear that it depends primarily on two main indicators: the speed of the car at the time of the commencement of braking and the coefficient of adhesion of tires to the road surface.
That is, it is important, how fast the car is driven, as well as dry asphalt or, perhaps, icy road. On dry asphalt, the braking distance of a passenger car, moving at a speed of 60 km/h will be, according to one data, within 17.8-20.3 meters, to the other – 23 meters. On wet asphalt, it would be already 35-50 meters, on the icy road the car can be carried away up to 177 meters. Braking distance on a dry concrete asphalt at an initial speed of 50 km/h is from 12.3 to 14.1 meters. As for the braking distance of 55 meters, which the Minister of the Interior spoke about, such a braking distance would have a car that moved at a speed of 100 km/h by dry asphalt road or at a speed of 70 km/h, but by wet asphalt. By the way, the “Lexus” with Olena Zaitseva at the wheel, who made mischief in Kharkiv and really pushed the Government to reduce the maximum permissible speed in settlements, as the examination determined, flew to the intersection at a speed of 102 kilometers per hour. Motorists say that if it was even 60 km/h, there would not be so tragic consequences.
There is not enough money for the cameras
“Games around speed – just a crafty substitution of concepts,” Serhii Petrovych, Kyiv citizen, driving for more than 30 years, says “And they do this in order to earn money by equipping Ukrainian roads with automatic violations fixing devices: this system, together with legalized inadequately high fines, will simply be another opportunity to rip people off. After all, not everyone, who drives a car has high incomes, as for some reason our officials think”. It is a question that from the end of September one more “car” law should come into force, according to which, those, who violate the traffic rules should be fined.
The Department of Patrol Police says that using the auto-fixing system will detect and shoot seven types of violations. This is primarily the excess of the established speed limits, running a prohibiting traffic light signal, the violation of the stopping and parking rules, in particular, parking on the lane for public transport, the violation of the rules of movement through the railway crossing, the oncoming lane and violation of the established prohibition to ride on sidewalks or pedestrian paths. Sending a request to the Department of Patrol Police, our publication asked, among other things, when it is actually planned to introduce an auto-fixing system, how much money it needs and where they plan to get it.
The Police ignored these questions, but then it became known that the start of the system of auto-fixing, which will include, in addition to stationary, still movable and mobile cameras, is supposed to be introduced this fall. And in the next three years, Ukraine plans to install 3,700 complexes to fix violations on the roads. Cameras should be placed along the roads on poles and vandal-proof boxes, first of all on the emergency-dangerous sections of roads and places of increased concentration of accidents. Mobile cameras always keep drivers in a tone, making them remember the need to follow the Traffic Laws because their location periodically change. And the Police will use the mobile. Therefore, we can assume that they will adopt the practice of former traffic cops, who caught violators of speed limits, hiding in the bushes. As the head of the Main Service Center of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Vladyslav Kryklii, clarified that the system should be launched till the end of the year, and it is a question of its full deployment throughout the country, so the roads are planned to be equipped with the first few hundred such complexes.
True, it is difficult to say whether this will be possible, we have already heard that such a system should be launched till the end of the year in 2015, but the terms are shifted from year to year. According to the expert of the public organization for the development of law enforcement bodies “LEAD-office” Taras Huk, this time the installation of a system of auto-fixing traffic violations can also be postponed. The point is that the Accounts Chamber notes in the June report on the audit of the National Police, which was conducted from December 2017 to March this year, it needs 1,1 billion UAH for its launch, but there is not enough money. And, interestingly, not only the mean but also the “normative acts that determine the technical requirements for the fixation system, the procedure for recording accidents, etc.” Until these issues are resolved, the human rights activists are convinced, it is advisable to analyze the causes of the accident more carefully, so as not to blame speed for everything. And if to punish someone, then the one, who is really to blame, and not the one, whom it is more convenient to find guilty, because, in such a case, it will be extremely difficult to establish order on the roads.
Text by Larysa Vyshynska