Recent research undertaken by Road Safety PA, Kyrgyzstan, in Bishtek showed that among 9000 vehicle occupants, only 61% were wearing seat belts. Of these, 70.% of drivers and 59% of front seat passengers wore seat belts, dropping to 6% for back seat passengers. Of the 22 small children observed, none were in child seats and out of 179 other children, only 25% were wearing seat belts.
In the event of a crash, wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of death by 45–50% for front seat occupants and 25% for rear seat occupants. The use of child restraints can reduce deaths by up to 60%.
Working jointly, PA Road Safety and the Eastern Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Transport (EASST) have therefore chosen the issue of seat belts and child seats for their UN Global Road Safety Week (UNGRSW) campaign. While UNGRSW only lasts a week, the seat belt and child seat campaign will continue over the summer.
The campaign kicked off on Tuesday 7 May 2019 with a public event gathering public figures, including political figures, celebrities, educators, and police officers, to show leadership in seat belt wearing by posing for a “safie” with the UNGRSW speech bubbles and committing to wearing a seat belt themselves.
The activities of this week will be followed by a public education campaign and police enforcement work over the coming months. Currently, only draft legislation exists requiring child restraints for children up to age 12 and although the police say the legislation should come into law soon, no date has been specified. The ongoing campaign will encourage and ensure the introduction of the new law.
The UNGRSW campaign was among projects sponsored by FedEx and the ongoing work will be funded by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.