I attended a presentation at work on Tuesday on ‘Road Safety’ which was given by a guy from the Dutch road safety group VVD. (the full name is impossibly unpronounceable)

By all accounts the statistics he presented were shocking and with 215 yearly road deaths (per 1 million residences), Ukraine looses an astonishing 36 children under the age of 14 PER WEEK to road accidents.

Social attitudes, poor infrastructure and even poorer law enforcement all exasperate the situation but they cannot be excused, this is a tragic number of deaths

However, what surprised me the most about the meeting was the seemingly genuine shock and surprise with which everyone reacted to the educational videos that were shown at the end.

If you’re less than 35 and from ‘Western’ Europe, you’ll have grown up with these videos, and the chances are you’ll know damn-well the consequences on not wearing a seatbelt, even in the back. However, it seems that this was genuinely surprising stuff here in Ukraine and the intentionally shocking ads were met with gasps of surprise and looks of genuine concern.

Now, its possible that this was all Ukrainian theatre and a culturally specific sign off appreciation for the guest-speaker, but I got the feeling that people were genuinely facing some uncomfortable facts for the first time (e.g. if you don’t strap your baby in, he may fly head-first through the front windscreen when you hit a bus because you’re talking to Mama on the phone, eating, smoking and driving at the same time)

I have to admit that, my first reaction was ‘Are you serious? I mean, it’s a no-brainer. Everyone knows this!’ right? Well, not really. If we look a little deeper at the statistics, we can see that not long ago us ‘Westerners’ were also pretty-damn ignorant to these facts. Road deaths per 1 million in the Netherlands in 1972 stood at a ridiculous 3,264! It’s all too easy to forget that what we now know and take for granted – we also had to learn.

With the right level of support and a committed public education campaign, social attitudes really can be changed and lives can be saved. The speaker highlighted three Es (Engineering, Enforcement and Education) and the facts speak for themselves – these things work. Mentalities (Ukrainian or not) can be changed. Attitudes to smoking (especially the smoking ban), the use of mobile-phones in cars etc are all good examples of this. What’s more, I really believe that public education fills gaps which is otherwise filled by rumour, superstition or worse, profit seeking enterprises. The contrast between the UK and Ukrainian reactions to Swine-Flu highlights this perfectly…

If this is to be called the ‘Nanny State’ so be it, but whatever your views on her – Nanny is clearly saving lives and Nanny has a lot of work to do in Ukraine.

Also, whilst we’re on the topic, Willard Marketing who publish a monthly marketing magazine in Ukraine also raised this subject recently and linked to the following video:

Posted from: www.bearder.com