On June 11th, 2019 the European Road Safety Charter workshop was held at the headquarters of the Motor Transport Institute in Warsaw.
In Poland, for the first time the solemn signing of the European Road Safety Charter (founded in 2004) took place in April 2004, just before Poland's accession to the European Union. Since then, the Charter has been signed by 138 organizations from our country, including the Motor Transport Institute in 2009.
Prof. Marcin Slezak, Director of the Motor Transport Institute, opened the opening session of the workshop by welcoming all participants.
In Poland there are certainly opportunities for non-governmental organisations. Especially their creativity and direct contact with people are untapped potential in Poland. In recent years, despite the efforts undertaken, the threat on Polish roads has fallen too slowly. Perhaps this is also the result of the lack of the ability to build a broad coalition around the national road safety program and omitting non-governmental organisations in these plans. Despite the fact that the number of road accidents is decreasing, their losses increase and only in 2018 amounted to approx. 3%. GDP, which in practice means tens of billions of zlotys. These losses are reduced by NGOs, which play a key role in reducing the impact of road accidents around the world (according to the World Health Organization every 24 seconds there is a fatal road accident. Only in Europe, 9.3 per 100,000 inhabitants die on the road).
Together with government authorities, they participate in the creation of many projects and programs that are adapted to the real needs of road safety. Due to the fact that they are closer to the society, they respond faster to its expectations in terms of security improvement than the local, regional or national administration, which are often subject to administrative restrictions. Acting on a global scale, they can implement activities locally - convinced prof. Marcin Ślęzak.
Following these welcome words, Matthew Baldwin - European Road Safety Coordinator and Deputy Director-General of DG MOVE of the European Commission- presented the European vision on road safety. Konrad Romik - Secretary of the National Road Safety Council, Ministry of Infrastructure- continued the opening session. Theodora Calinescu -project manager at the European Transport Safety Council and member of the Charter Team- gave a testimonial on the added value of being a Charter member. Her testimonial was followed by Vincent Leroy -coordinator of the Charter Team- who gave more information on the Charter itself: what is it, why should you join, how can you join, etc.
Another highlight during the opening session was the presentation of new signatories of the European Road Safety Charter. Fifteen Polish road safety stakeholders recently signed the Charter and expressed hereby their commitment by taking real action to improve road safety. By signing the European Road Safety Charter, its signatories declare that they will support the European Commission in achieving the objectives adopted in the next EU road safety programs by implementing its own preventive programs.
Before the coffee break the opening session was closed appropriately with a commemorative photo of all participants of the Charter workshop in front of the Motor Transport Institute and a press conference.
After the coffee break the main session of the workshop opened with the presentation of two Polish winners of the "Excellence in Road Safety" Award: Polish State Railways (2015) and Traffic Safety Center from Losz (2016). This main session also offered a great opportunity to present interesting preventive programs implemented in Poland. The main topic of initiatives and actions undertaken by Polish institutions and non-governmental organisations is to increase the level of safety of road users, and in particular to increase pedestrian safety. Many lecturers emphasized the role of education, especially children and the elderly, as the main preventive tool in caring for the safety of our society.
The main session ended with a Non-Governmental Hyde Park - an open discussion with the participants of the workshop on how to better use the potential of NGOs in preventive activities in Poland.
“I hope that the meeting at the Institute will be a powerful impulse to change this approach. And this change is needed immediately.” - emphasized Ilona Buttler from the Motor Transport Institute, who moderated the Charter workshop
After the oficial closing of the main session the discussion continued in a more informal but still interesting way during lunch.