Road Safety and the Need for Motorways

road safety and the need for motorways The precarious state of Romania's road infrastructure is notorious

Whether or not we like to travel throughout the country, or whether our job takes us on the roads of Romania, the precarious state of the country's road infrastructure is notorious. Many national or county roads are full of holes and degraded. Unfortunately, this causes harm and human victims. In 2019 alone, over 1,800 people died in 32,000 automotive accidents. 729 of them were pedestrians. However, these figures say nothing of the tragedy lived by the thousands of families that have lost a member, or have relatives left with infirmities. The latter are represented by Oana Baciu, president of the National Association in Support of Victims and the Prevention of Road Accidents:
“In the last decade there has been a decline in the number of accidents, helped by prevention campaigns, and by strategic campaigns run by police departments. The idea is that since 2008, the most disastrous year on record, with 3,000 people killed in road accidents, we now have an average of 1,800 people killed at the national level. The number of victims has fallen, but for a few years now we are stuck with this figure, so we have been unable to make progress. Unfortunately, we are in a sad place at the European level, because we come first in terms of road accident victims.”
We asked Oana Baciu what makes a road that is poorly maintained, too narrow, or badly placed so dangerous. She said that the connection is innevitable:
“Many, many times, especially if you are a professional driver, you are forced by the situation to arrive at the destination on a deadline. Or you simply want to make good time to your destination. If you are on a narrow road, you cannot overtake, or cannot do so safely, then you have to make all sorts of maneuvers to get to where you're going on time. This is a way of exposing yourself, with full responsibility, to accidents, with or without victims. You are equally responsible if you cause an accident while trying to avoid a hole in the road. It is difficult to lay the blame on the institution that was supposed to take better care of that piece of road. Which is why, for years now, we have been struggling with people to make them understand that the infrastructure is not helping, and that they have to protect themselves. For drivers, because of narrow and poor roads, it becomes mission impossible sometimes when trying to avoid an obstacle.”
Along the years there have been only a few people who sued in courts state institutions for bad road maintenance, which led to accidents. However, most of the victims don't know their rights, and most times cannot even contemplate a lawsuit. Here is Oana Baciu once again:
“The biggest problem we are facing in fighting for justice is people's fear. They are afraid to fight for justice, most times it seems that it is in vain. Such a lawsuit is very hard to understand by people, and to initiate such a suit you need substantial financial resources for legal assistance. And those that do have a long hard road ahead of them, so, as far as I know there are not many lawsuits nationally to hold responsible state authorities for accidents caused by the poor state of the roads.”
Motorways should be the safest roads, because they circumvent localities and contribute to traffic decongestion. However, Romania is notorious for its lack of motorways. At the end of last year, only 4.8% of national roads were motorways, with a total of 866 km, considering that Romania is the ninth largest state in Europe in terms of surface. What can regular people do in such a situation? They may do as entrepreneur Stefan Mandachi did in 2019. On the 15th of March that year he called an unusual strike: 15 minutes of interrupting activities starting at 15:00 hours. Many activities were stopped, especially driving, for people to protest the lack of motorways in Moldavia, and also for the poor state of roads in general. Stefan Mandachi, a citizen from the Moldavian city of Suceava, had already built a symbolic motorway one meter long in his native village. In spite of the success of this awareness raising undertaking, today, more than a year later, Moldavia still has no motorways, not even a planned one. He continued his civic militancy with a documentary called '30 Years and 15 Minutes'. Here he is telling us about it:
“This film is a protest too. I am protesting the fact that there are no motorways in Moldavia. Suceava, for instance, is totally cut off from the capital of Transylvania, Cluj, and the capital of the whole country, Bucharest. In order to travel for business between Suceava and Cluj, Bucharest, or Timisoara, I started using a utility airplane, which takes me to Cluj in an hour and a half instead of six hours by car, or eight hours to Bucharest. We business people are forced by circumstance to look for means of transportation, because time is money for us. In addition, in Romania it is more dangerous to travel by road than by the air.”
The documentary focuses on the tragedy of a few families affected by accidents, as happened to Stefan Mandachi's own family:
“I was one step away from dying several times when driving in Romania. My mother had a road accident, and so did my brother. Everyone around me has some connection with road accident victims, or had to suffer because of the sorry state of roads in Romania. I would like to live in a country that has a normal infrastructure. We're not asking for UFOs, we don't want hanging overpasses, we want decent roads that don't endanger our lives every single day. I have been traveling by car since I was  a kid, and many times I was an eye witness to many accidents. I wanted to put out my own story next to the stories of victims, or of parents who have lost children. We wanted to put them together to tell a story.”
Oana Baciu, herself featured in the documentary, believes this story has to be told over and over again to raise awareness, both on the side of the authorities and on the side of the people who are seeking to find a voice to express their discontent.


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Publicat: 2020-10-14 13:20:00
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