Serbian GIS Association at the international conference on traffic safety in the local community

From June 24th to 27th, the 15th International Conference "Traffic Safety in the Local Community" was held in Vrnjačka Banja, which was attended by a member of the Serbian GIS Association and President of the Association for Traffic Safety "Safe Pathways", Master Traffic Engineer Igor Velić, with whom we spoke.

1. Who all participated in the conference and what are the general impressions?

First of all, thank you for the invitation for this conversation. The general conclusions from the just finished conference, which were adopted by the organizing committee of the conference headed by prof. dr Miladin Nešić and the scientific-program board headed by prof. Dr. Krsto Lipovac. So I will do my best to present the most important conclusions in this conversation.

The conference was attended by over 200 participants, both domestic experts dedicated to traffic safety, and respected experts from Switzerland, England, France, Germany, Ukraine, Greece, Slovenia, Northern Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, etc.

The conference was supported by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE from Geneva), the European Council for Traffic Safety and through scientific and educational institutions, state bodies and other entities.

Four workshops and one round table were realized:
  - Experiences of Southeast European countries in strategic traffic safety management
  - Sustainable urban mobility in the region
  - Micromobility - a new form of environmentally friendly transport in cities
  - Examples of good practice in selected cities and municipalities in the region
  - Round table Regulations in traffic safety

The Conference presented the results of the latest research on traffic safety in the region and in the world, risk maps by local communities, as well as the values of performance indicators of traffic safety systems.

Most of the space was dedicated to presenting examples from practice. Namely, the participants presented selected examples of measures and activities that some units of the local community successfully implemented in the previous period. Also, scientific research papers were presented, which cover very different areas of traffic safety, and each of them arouses interest, stimulates questions and opens space for discussions.

2. Which presentations and workshops were of most interest to the conference participants?

The representative of UNECE, Nenad Nikolić gave a lecture: Global Framework Plan of Action for Road Safety and led a workshop Experiences of Southeast European countries in strategic traffic safety management in the region.

The UNECE representative presented the global action plan and global goals of traffic safety, as well as the most important activities of individual United Nations bodies in this area. Katarina Fola (National Technical University of Athens, Greece) presented the goals and results of the implementation of the EU strategy in traffic safety until 2020, but also the new strategy for traffic safety for the EU (until 2030), envisaged measures and activities that will be applied in the next ten-year period.

The micromobility workshop was led by a respected expert from DEKRA (Velimir Jeremić). In addition to the participants of the conference, the workshop included two other DEKRA experts who spoke from Germany, online. Attention is paid to the latest experiences in the application of new means of transport such as scooters, small electric vehicles, electric bicycles, etc. The experiences of European countries are especially analyzed.

The workshop: Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans, moderated by Srdjan Radović (Čajetina), presented good examples of sustainable urban mobility plans. The experiences of Kruševac and other cities, which were the first to start preparing their plans, were especially analyzed. It was estimated that other local communities should follow the path of the best cities in Europe and Serbia.

Dr. Alan Ross, on behalf of the International Center for Traffic Safety, gave a lecture: Sustainable Development Goals and their relevance in local communities - Why should you care?

Two workshops: Examples of good practice where our Safe Pathways project was most notable included a number of significant presentations of implemented measures in individual local communities, as well as an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of individual solutions. The moderators of these workshops were Milan Ilić (ABS of Serbia) and Doc. Dr. Milan Tesic (ABS of Republika Srpska).

3. Where is Serbia in terms of traffic safety in relation to EU countries?

The general situation in traffic safety, in the countries of Southeast Europe, is improving, but still lags behind the countries with the best performance in Europe. The downward trend is not stable and oscillates from year to year.

Serbia has not achieved any of the set goals from the national traffic safety strategy 2015-2020.

In the period from 2015 to 2019, significantly more people were killed in traffic accidents than was foreseen by the traffic safety strategy, and these were:
  • 288 more dead in traffic accidents
  • 1,925 more seriously injured
  • about 15,000 more lightly injured people, compared to the strategy-defined goals!
  • this increase in the number of casualties, according to the European model for calculating the total economic consequences of traffic accidents, cost our society about 1.6 billion euros more than was set as a transitional goal in the traffic safety strategy.

Such poor results are a consequence of inaction and poor coordination and cooperation of the most important subjects of traffic safety. The Traffic Safety Strategy defined that "The most important subjects of traffic safety in the Republic of Serbia are: the Government, the Ministry in charge of traffic affairs and the Ministry of Interior, as holders of executive power and as bodies responsible for traffic safety in the country". On the other hand, the national Body for Coordination of Traffic Safety Affairs, which did not work in the previous period, is most responsible for establishing coordination. In most municipalities and cities, local traffic safety coordination bodies have not been successful in their work. In order to reduce the harmful consequences in the coming period, conference participants call on the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the most important subjects of traffic safety to determine the degree of achievement of goals from the Strategy, causes of poor results, analyze implementation of Action Plan activities, unfulfilled goals and inform the general public about the results of this analysis.

4. What interest did the presentation of the project of the Serbian GIS Association "Safe pathways and routes for the primary school pupils and high school students in Bor" arouse?

This is the second international conference at which the Serbian GIS Association presented its project which, using new technologies, enables easier management of traffic safety in the school zone and the school's gravity area.

Within the two workshops dedicated to examples of good practice in local self-government units, I emphasized the importance of using open data for easier decision making and development of mobile and web applications that enable easier traffic safety management and significantly improve children's safety in traffic.

The promotion showed not only how much such projects, and above all applications on child safety in traffic, are necessary for every city, but also how important open data is for creating a better, safer, more humane and successful life on a daily basis, and in every community.

In the discussion initiated by this unique project, I announced that the Serbian GIS Association together with the association "Safe Pathways" is working on the development of another mobile application for students and parents of primary and secondary schools in Bor, which will propose a safe route from home to school, avoiding objectively and subjectively dangerous locations in the city.

The presentation of the new application and a series of new functions that will significantly facilitate the work in identifying traffic safety problems on the territory of the city of Bor, is expected at the upcoming international conference to be held in October in Banja Luka.

The lack of adequate financial support prevents us from improving our work on new applications, which would contribute to reducing the number of traffic accidents. In this regard, we hope that the city of Bor will finally publicly stand behind our work and thus support the story of the use of new technologies.

The development of new technologies is important in order to make smarter decisions and will certainly contribute to reducing the number of traffic accidents and giving children safe routes from home to school, and the model developed by the Serbian GIS Association is applicable to every city and municipality in Serbia.

The entire project is available at bor.sigurnestaze.com.
See more about the mobile app by clicking here.

5. What are the basic recommendations for traffic safety in the local community?

The Law on Traffic Safety in Serbia well prescribes competencies and responsibilities, the obligation to establish local bodies for traffic safety, a sustainable way of financing activities in traffic safety (30% of the money from fines goes to local self-government units).

Local traffic safety authorities have an excellent opportunity to design, implement and coordinate all activities "on the premises". The law prescribes: the obligation to establish local bodies for traffic safety, the obligation to purposefully use funds from fines for traffic violations, the manner of distribution of these funds, the purpose of these funds, the obligation to adopt strategies and action plans for traffic safety, the obligation to adopt annual traffic safety programs and report on implementation programs, monitoring the implementation of strategic documents, etc. 

In order to raise traffic safety at the local level to a higher level, it is necessary to:
  • Local authorities, and especially mayors, are responsible for the intended use of funds from fines for traffic violations, according to the annual Work Programs of the Traffic Safety Coordination Body, which is approved by the Traffic Safety Agency. Only such, purposeful use of funds, enables the development and improvement of traffic safety in local communities. Decision makers should be encouraged that investing in appropriate traffic safety measures is a good investment, with an excellent return on funds (the benefit of one invested dinar ranges from 5 to as much as 30 dinars, depending on the implemented measures)
  • That the holders of power at the local level organize and monitor the implementation of measures and activities within their competence
  • Preparation and adoption of strategic documents (traffic safety strategy and action plan for traffic safety) and their consistent implementation
  • Adoption and consistent implementation of annual traffic safety programs that are in line with strategic documents
  • Reporting on the state of traffic safety, on the results of the implementation of strategic documents and on the implementation of the traffic safety program
  • Strengthen local self-government units - in each municipality/city there should be at least one employee whose main job is to organize and implement traffic safety measures
  • Perform continuous professional training of employees in municipalities and cities, through regular training in the form of seminars, conferences and other professional gatherings dedicated to traffic safety
  • In all municipalities and cities, consistently and responsibly, purposefully use the funds from fines for traffic violations
  • That the state audit institution (SAI) monitors the use of earmarked funds and informs the public about it, initiates measures against those who misuse this money
  • To promote at all levels and in all areas the modern concept of responsibility for the state of traffic safety, with emphasis on the illegal responsibility of the creators of the system
  • Continue regular recording and analysis of attitudes about traffic risks, traffic exposure, traffic safety indicators and other traffic safety features, in order to create conditions for traffic safety to be based on data and science
  • Encouraging experts to critically participate in all activities to improve traffic safety (traffic safety must be based on science)