Minnikhanov: ‘E-scooters are no good, people should walk’

The Tatarstan president agreed with tightening measures for fans of driving personal transporters fast

“We have three key causes of deaths on the road. It is entering the oncoming lane, pedestrian knockdown, driving when drunk,” Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov named the most dangerous violations of traffic rules leading to deaths. Despite a positive trend for the reduction of the death rate to 306 people in 2022, the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Tatarstan demanded to tighten the punishment for road traffic lawbreakers. Minister Artyom Khokhorin sees e-scooters as the threat to safety. The Tatarstan Ministry of Education was tasked with considering teaching to drive in the school programme.

Death rate in decline

306 people died on Tatarstan roads last year — it is a third less than at the peak in 2016 when 426 people who drove to death. Moreover, in the last three years, the death rate dynamics have gradually decreased — from 379 in 2018 to 313 in 2021. Such statistics were provided at a meeting of the Tatarstan government dedicated to improving the safety of road traffic and a session of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on 1 February. Traditionally, President of the republic Rustam Minnikhanov chaired the meeting, while municipal leaders joined it via teleconference. However, some leaders decided to personally come to Kazan.

The interest in the agenda is clear. Despite the stabilisation of the incidence on the road, the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Tatarstan continues sticking to a course for tightening road traffic rules. This time, head of the Tatarstan Ministry of Internal Affairs Artyom Khokhorin requests strict requirements for federal and republican contractors modernising and repairing roads in Tatarstan. He urged the management of Volga-Vyatskyupravdor to be more careful and responsible about the construction of engineering infrastructure, illumination and improvement of road marking and signs on highways. In Artyom Khokhorin’s opinion, such construction goes to the forefront for the fight for road safety.

Artyom Khokhorin: the situation on the roads remains unstable

“The incidence on the road in the last five years has decreased, targets of the Road Traffic Safety federal project have been reached,” claimed Tatarstan Minister of Internal Affairs Artyom Khokhorin. But he added at the same time that not everything was so smooth despite the positive dynamics: “The situation on the roads remains quite unstable. Deaths in one in two ‘red zones’ rose (it is 14 municipalities, Aznakayvo, Almetyevsk, Laishevo and others).”

There is some concern because the dynamics of the number of people who died in a road accident showed growth almost every month during the year. As slides showed, a notable rise was in April — 27 more deaths than during the same month in 2021. And the statistics fixed 7 deaths less in December compared to 2021. In a word, the death rate on the roads declined slightly compared to the results of 2021.

How Tatarstan Ministry of Internal Affairs intends to reduce the number of accidents

Meanwhile, this year, there is a task of sharply reducing deaths on the roads. “The forecast for 2023 is 298 people, which is 23,9% less than in 2022,” said Artyom Khokhorin. In his opinion, it will be tough to do this task. Precisely for this reason he sees reserves in improving road infrastructure: “It is necessary to determine the measures that will allow solving this task.”

The minister called traffic violations when entering an oncoming lane the main cause of deaths. According to his, one in three people at the wheel died because of this, or 21 people. Another 51 died where overtaking is prohibited. Such traffic accidents regularly take place on federal and regional roads. But traffic crashes are more often registered on the federal highways Kazan — Orenburg and Kazan — Ulyanovsk.

First of all, this refers to a segment from 4 to 9 km on the Ulyanovsk highway. Four accidents have taken place here in the last five years, 67 people have died, 9 have been injured, Artyom Khokhorin said. From his point of view, it is necessary to do work to divide oncoming traffic flows.

“If the works go effectively on the first highway, I cannot say the same about the second one,” he addressed head of Volga-Vyatskyupravdor Ildar Mingazov. “I offer you, Mr Mingazov, to take priority measures and turn to Russia’s government commission to remodel the accident clusters.”

The minister added that an analogous decision is needed to reequip the road infrastructure at the entrance to Kirov.

Photo: realnoevremya.ru

Thermal plastic producing noise

The Tatarstan minister of internal affairs offered to place road marking with noise. According to him, these preventive measures showed a good result: “Rumble strips were used in some segments last year, after that road accidents haven’t been registered. However, money for the distribution of transport flows hasn’t been envisaged this year,” he indicated.

In general Khokhorin was for switching from usual paint marking to enduring thermal plastic: “Thermal plastic is used only in a quarter of the necessary amount of roads. Thermal plastic is more expensive, but unlike the paint it lasts for three years. According to the Tatarstan Ministry of Internal Affairs, worn marking became a reason for the growth of road accidents in 32 municipalities. Here he thanked the president of the republic for allocating 250 million rubles for the marking on 1,710 km.”

Almost a quarter, or 76 people, died because of the human factor. Somebody fell asleep at the wheel, somebody got distracted on the road and ended up in a ditch or a pedestrian suddenly ran to the road, Khokhorin added. The elderly who do not notice a moving vehicle in the dark often turn out to be victims.

Head of the Tatarstan Ministry of Internal Affairs Artyom Khokhorin tasked road contractors to include costs on road illumination and curb installation along the roads to the estimates. Artyom Khokhorin says that 13,000 regional roads (a total of 40,000 km) have been expanded in the last two years. But this is not enough to prevent the risks of a road accident. A juncture is planned to be built when building roundabouts of Nizhnekamsk and Chistopol.

Stricter about road traffic violators

The head of the ministry offered to tighten the responsibility for violating the speed limit and overtaking. Changes made to Article 262.2 of the Criminal Code of Russia where criminal liability is introduced for repeated violations have come into force this year. However, in practice, the sanctions of the article do not work. Artyom Khakhorin says that last year the number of drivers who violated overtaking rules again increased. But it is impossible to hold them accountable. It turns out that this overtaking must be registered by a traffic police, not a camera. Moreover, it must be the third violation. As a result, two drivers were held accountable in Tatarstan, there are 55 violators in the country, complained Artyom Khokhorin.

He harshly criticised drivers of executive committees who violated road traffic last year. He says that drivers of the executive committee of Buinsk District had the biggest number of violations, and fines aren’t paid. “I warn municipal leaders who have fines, arrest, revocation of the vehicle is the next step,” he harshly warned. “One should be an example of transport discipline before demanding something from one’s employees.”

Better walking?

In conclusion, he took up arms against fans of riding e-scooters. The minister thinks that this personal transporters create risks of injuries for pedestrians. Changes were made to traffic rules related to e-scooters in March.

“We offer the Ministry of Education to consider the possibility of including this topic to the educational programme,” he claimed.

The minister recommended executive committees to look for sites for e-scooter parking. Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov agreed with him. According to him, a set of measured that were taken allowed achieving some stabilisation of the situation on the roads, there is more order.

Considering the changes to traffic rules (coming into force on 1 March), executive committees should prepare for the new season in advance, define the places where such transport can move and be placed.

“E-scooters are no good, people should walk or ride a bicycle,” the Tatarstan president recommended.

Luiza Ignatyeva