How to improve on road safety in Poland? a debate of The National Roads Safety Council and The World Bank

March 17, 2010

WARSAW, March 17, 2010— The National Roads Safety Council and the World Bank today organized the conference “Are we on the right path? – World Bank report on road safety in Central and Eastern Europe”. Two reports were presented at the conference - Confronting “Death on Wheels”: Making Roads Safe in Europe and Central Asia, which focuses on road safety issues in Europe and Central Asia, and past of the report Transport Policy Note for Poland, which analyzes road safety management system in the country and advises on how Poland can improve its road safety.

Participants of the discussion on the main reasons for road traffic injuries and methods of preventing them included: Radosław Stępień, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Infrastructure and Deputy Chairman of the National Roads Safety Council; and Patricio Marquez, Lead Public Health Specialist of the World Bank.

Although road safety in Poland has improved over the last decade, Poland still has one of the worst road safety records in the European Union.” – said Patricio Marquez, World Bank Lead Public Health Specialist and co-author of the reports. “Poland’s progress towards the achievement of the EU and the national (GAMBIT Program) road fatality reduction targets by 2010 and 2013 shows a substantial gap between the projected goals and actual outcomes. To achieve these targets, Poland needs to reduce road fatalities by 50 percent from the current level.”

Excessive speed and failure to adjust speed to driving conditions on the road has been the most frequent cause for RTIs in Poland for many years, also the most frequent cause of fatalities. In 2009, those constituted 31% of all registered accidents (10 910), in which 1 432 persons have died (46% of all fatalities), and 15 876 were injured (34%).

Besides speed, the most frequent reasons for accidents are: bravado and forcing the right of way. Those most at risk are the unprotected traffic participants, namely pedestrians and cyclists, as the results of accidents with their participation are among the most tragic.

There is only one number of fatalities we can be satisfied with – it's zero”. – said Undersecretary of State, Radosław Stępień during the conference. – “Speed kills. Even in March we will launch a campaign related to that. We are working on changing the drivers' habits, changing their awareness, on creating a certain level of disapproval for excessive speed and bravado”.

Thanks to the activities undertaken in 2009 to improve roads safety, compared to 2008 there has been:

a decrease in number if road accidents by 4 869, i.e. by – 9,9% (a total of 44 185 accidents)
a decrease in number of fatalities by 865 persons, i.e. – 15,9% (a total of 4 572 fatalities),
a decrease in number of injured by 6 069 persons, i.e. by – 9,8% (a total of 56 028 injured),
a minor increase in the number of collisions notified, by 249, i.e. by + 0,1% (a total of 381 769 collisions).

Although the numbers indicate that the activities undertaken in order to improve roads safety are bringing a certain improvement, the still–broad range of negative phenomena requires further work and investment in this scope.

According to Vice-Minister Radosław Stępień from Ministry of Infrastructure, it is necessary to stabilize the system of financing roads safety investments.

According to World Bank experts, improving institutional management functions for road safety in Poland would require a number of actions:

  • Strengthening institutions and governance capacity for prevention of road traffic injuries;
  • Improving coordination among participating agencies and with regional governments;
  • Improving the main legislative road safety requirements so that they further align with the European norms;
  • Securing sustainable funding as road safety in Poland is heavily reliant on international donor assistance;
  • Improving nationwide traffic injury surveillance systems and supporting national road safety reviews are a sound basis for formulating policies and plans, particularly at the regional level;
  • Improving the delivery of emergency medical services by adopting new organizational and governance models for operating post-vehicle crash and trauma care services at health facilities.

I am convinced that Poland has knowledge and capacity to improve road safety.” – said Thomas Laursen, World Bank Country Manager for Poland and the Baltic Countries. “The clear commitment of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the National Roads Safety Council Poland shown also during today’s conference augurs well for making the necessary changes in the transport and road safety system. The World Bank stands ready to assist the Government of Poland in implementing these changes.”