Every year in Kazakhstan, road traffic accidents (RTAs) result in 10,000 casualties, with 2,500 fatalities. According to the World Bank, this has a detrimental impact on the economy, accounting for 3.3% of the GDP or 7.3 billion dollars.
In a regional breakdown for the year 2022, the cities with the highest number of casualties were Almaty (4,460 individuals), Taraz (1,077 individuals), and Nur-Sultan (778 individuals), as reported by Sarbaz.kz referencing the Kazakhstan Urbanists Association Q-88.
Urban transportation plays a crucial role in a city's economy, directly affecting its quality. In this context, human movement greatly influences a city's transportation dynamics.
Consequently, the city's foremost duty is to ensure efficient and safe mobility for its residents. Road safety in Kazakh cities is of paramount importance, given that approximately 75% of all accidents in the country occur in urban areas (as of 2021 data).
However, it's important to note that intercity road infrastructure in Kazakhstan is still in a developmental phase. As highlighted by an expert from the Vision Zero program and a member of the Kazakhstan Urbanists Association Q88, Nikolay Borovskiy, the primary oversight in road construction is designing based on outdated standards. Many safety aspects beyond asphalt quality are ignored, including turning radii, gradients, and speed control systems.
Among the leading causes of road traffic accidents (RTAs) are:
Speeding: High speeds reduce driver reaction time, increase braking distance, and make vehicle control more challenging, leading to more severe consequences in RTAs.
Overtaking violations: Errors during overtaking maneuvers can lead to hazardous situations, including collisions with other vehicles.
Driver fatigue and drowsiness: Extended journeys can result in fatigue and drowsiness, increasing the risk of losing control of the vehicle.
Insufficient following distance: An inadequate gap between vehicles can result in collisions during sudden braking, especially at high speeds.
Driver distraction: Mobile phones and other distractions reduce driver attention and reaction time. Weather conditions: Poor visibility due to adverse weather conditions elevates the risk of accidents.
Technical issues: A vehicle's suboptimal condition can lead to RTAs.
These factors can interact and exacerbate each other, increasing road risk. Adherence to traffic rules, appropriate speed, safe following distance, and good vehicle maintenance are key measures for preventing RTAs.
In 2021, the World Bank published the "Guide for Road Safety Interventions: Evidence of What Works and What Does Not Work," developed in collaboration with the Global Road Safety Facility. This guide aims to collect effective road safety measures that have been proven through practice in various countries worldwide. It assists in selecting the most effective approaches while avoiding those that may be ineffective or even harmful.
The Vision Zero project, focused on enhancing road safety and reducing RTA fatalities, offers several options to reduce road fatalities, categorized into two effectiveness levels – highly effective (above 30% effectiveness) and sufficiently effective (below 30%).
The highly effective measures include:
Road barriers on intercity roads – effectiveness up to 80%
Median barriers between opposing flows on intercity roads, including two-lane roads – effectiveness up to 80%
Roundabouts (no more than 2 lanes). Speed reduction through changes in movement trajectories, reducing the number of conflict points – up to 80% effectiveness among drivers and passengers
Grade-separated interchanges on intercity roads – effectiveness up to 50%
Overpasses and underpasses for pedestrians on intercity roads. Zebra crossings over rural roads – a widespread hazardous practice in Kazakhstan – effectiveness over 30%
Transition from high-speed to low-speed zones (e.g., when exiting a highway into an urban area) through traffic calming measures – up to 40% effectiveness
Speed control cameras – up to 70% effectiveness for speeding-related RTAs
Hefty fines for not wearing seat belts and helmets – up to 50% effectiveness for seat belts, 40-90% effectiveness for helmets Safe vehicles – according to various studies, vehicles with a 5-star Euro NCAP rating have effectiveness ranging from 25% to 70%.
The Vision Zero project is being implemented by the Kazakhstan Urbanists Association Q88 in collaboration with Sergek Group, with support from the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the United Nations Development Programme in Kazakhstan.