Country Report REPUBLIC of ARMENIA

Country Report REPUBLIC of ARMENIA


Review of road safety management capacity and proposals for a short to long-term investment strategy

FINAL 26th June 2006

Eric Howard

VicRoads International

Jeanne Breen

Jeanne Breen Consulting

  1. Introduction


The road safety situation in the Republic of Armenia is serious and deteriorating. In the context of substantial and continual administrative change since independence, increasing motor vehicle traffic volumes and inadequate road safety management, the risk of death and serious injury as well as the socio-economic costs of road traffic crashes in Armenia’s road traffic system are rising.

In 2005, there were 310 reported deaths and 1,771 injuries representing increases of 24% and 29% respectively since 2001. Around 52% of fatalities are car occupants and 45% are pedestrians. Child road traffic deaths comprise 8% of total road traffic deaths. The majority of deaths take place on highway and republican roads (49%) and in the city of Yerevan (25%) where around 77% of deaths are to pedestrians. Since 2000, the number of licensed drivers has doubled and the number of licensed motor vehicles has trebled[1]. The death rate per 100,000 of population is 10.3 which is about twice as high as the best in Europe. The death rate per 10,000 vehicles 16.6 which is over 8 times as high as Europe’s best. In 2003, the socio-economic costs were estimated to be between US$ 25.7 – 37.0 million per year representing over 1% of national GDP for Armenia. In addition to these costs, the loss of the main wage earner in road traffic crashes pushes families into poverty. Research in high-income countries has shown that children from the lowest income groups are 5 times as likely to sustain fatal and serious injury in road traffic than other groups[2]. With over 40% of the population already below the poverty line, improving road safety in the Republic of Armenia is also a key issue for both national poverty reduction and child mortality reduction strategies.

Road safety activity in Armenia has been supported by previous World Bank assistance[3]. A multi-sectoral co-ordinating National Road Safety Council was established by the Government in 2001 under this project bringing together around 13 government stakeholders under the chair of the Minister of Transport and Communications. It became inactive after the completion of the project and a tiny road safety function now exists within Armenia Roads.

However, following a Presidential decree in April 2006, traffic management and road safety is set to become an increasing priority for policymakers in Armenia[4]. Following the establishment of an inter-governmental task force, substantial structural reforms of transport organization have taken place, and further legislative change is planned. These steps are commended and are acknowledged as an important indicator of the preparedness of senior agency staff to embrace change in a co-operative and effective manner working across government. These will provide key building blocks towards the development and implementation of a new road safety strategy. Interest was expressed by key stakeholders in coming together to develop a road safety strategy and programme.

1.2.The road safety review

The main objective of this road safety review is to set out a strategy for the short to long term to address the serious road safety situation in Armenia. Its purpose is to guide future World Bank investments, based on a review of country road safety management capacity and taking account of other activity in this field carried out by other international organizations with programmes and partnerships in Armenia.

Section 2 outlines the findings of the road safety management capacity review. Section 3 presents the short to long term strategy prepared in response to these findings and developments. Section 4 outlines a short term action plan. Section 5 presents an assessment of the revised operational guidelines for road safety capacity review based on the review activity in Armenia and Ukraine in May-June 2006.

1.3.Armenia’s development objectives and international partnerships

Armenia’s development goals In August 2003, the Government of the Republic of Armenia adopted the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) and approved, in January 2004, an action plan of measures to implement the PRSP’s programme during 2004-2006. The main pillars of the Poverty Reduction Strategy - are:

  • Sustainable and equitable economic growth
  • Public administration and the anti-corruption programme
  • Human development

World Bank Country Assistance goals Taking account of these objectives, the World Bank adopted its new Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) for Armenia in 2004 for the period 2004-2008. The main priorities envisaged in the CAS are:

  • Promoting private sector led economic growth
  • Making growth benefit the poor
  • Reducing non-income poverty
  • Maintaining infrastructure
  • Improving the targeting of expenditures for social protection and education

The World Bank estimates that Armenia is likely to meet the Millennium Development Goals for gender and education, may meet the goals for poverty reduction, infectious diseases and environmental sustainability, but is unlikely to meet those on child mortality and maternal health [5].

Previous World Bank support (US $0.5 million) included the establishment of the National Road Safety Council with a permanent Secretariat, the development of an Accident Data System; carrying out safety engineering activities including the establishment of accident standards, conducting safety audits; establishing the capacity for making signs and for road marking, support for a vehicle inspection program, providing safety engineering training, providing traffic control equipment such as speed detectors, providing safety education within the school system, and making the physical changes needed to eliminate some accidents black spots as these were identified through the accident reporting system.

World Bank Transport Strategy and Road Safety World Bank recommendations on global road safety management are set out in the World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention[6] which it co-produced with the World Health Organization and its follow up guidance on implementation activity in the Transport Note TN-1[7] and its draft revision. The establishment of the Global Road Safety Facility and the Bank’s stated aim in its new transport strategy in pursuit of a ‘safer, cleaner and affordable road transport system’ underlines its commitment to play a leading global role in road safety.

European Union initiatives Armenia is aiming for progressive integration into EU models and standards and was included in the European Neighbourhood Policy in June 2004. In November 2005, a draft Action Plan presented by the EU was discussed. Amongst a wide range of fields, co-operation and reforms in the spheres of transport, energy and environment are also highlighted. Due consideration is given to scientific co-operation, which will prepare Armenia’s integration into the European Research Area and into the Community research and development Framework Programme. The TACIS programme in Armenia for 2004-2006 (€20 million) covers support for institutional, legal and administrative reform and support in addressing the social consequences of transition with an emphasis on the vocational education sector [8],[9],[10].

ECMT/OECD initiativesArmenia joined the European Conference of Ministers of Transport in 2003 and adopted the ECMTAcquis upon joining the organization which involves signing up to the aspirational target to reduce deaths by 50% by the year 2012 and adoption of various road safety resolutions.

EBRD initiatives in Armenia have, to date, comprised maintenance elements of road infrastructure and work with small and medium enterprises.

WHO initiatives The World Health Organization has a biennial Collaborative Agreement with the Ministry of Health of Armenia (currently for 2006-7) although there are no specific road injury prevention, pre-hospital care or trauma care provisions at present.

The road safety investment strategies will need to take account of the importance of road injury prevention in achieving national and international development priorities for reducing poverty and child mortality and identify opportunities for developing further international strategic partnerships and programmes, particularly with European Union and ECMT, EBRD and WHO Europe, given Armenia’s aspiration for further European integration.

1.4.Road safety strategy review process

A five step process was used to conduct the safety strategy review in Armenia.

Step 1: Appraise current safety practices and outcomes.

An on-site review of road safety management capacity was carried out on behalf of the World Bank between 28th May and 2nd June by Eric Howard and Jeanne Breenof VicRoads International and Jeanne Breen Consulting in association with the World Bank Yerevan Office and Armenia Roads. Meetings were held with Government stakeholders and international organizations as outlined in Annex 1.

The review team was asked to assess the road safety management capacity of Armenia using international best practice as a benchmark. This involved using operational guidelines provided in World Bank Transport Note 1 (revised draft).

Effective road safety management is characterised by three key strategic elements: clearly defined performance targets which are challenging but achievable, a comprehensive framework of integrated interventions across the system and effective implementation arrangements involving key stakeholders.

Taking into account some additional elements in the revised draft TN -1 and in a draft road safety management guide being produced for the World Bank, the appraisal checklist of TN-1 was used to assess country capacity in terms of ‘system’ and ‘effectiveness’ to provide a ‘diagnosis’.

The ‘system’ capacity review appraises road safety management along the three international best practice dimensions: results management, interventions and implementation (taking account of structure which relates to institutional organisation and processes and culture which concerns how things get done in the country)

The ‘effectiveness’ capacity review tries to assess where the country is in terms of its road safety development. It requires consideration of the social cost densities of networks, and where the greatest concentrations of crashes and related deaths and injuries occur, because it is in these corridors and areas that the most potential for accelerating effectiveness occurs. The first phase involves a slow accretion of capacity and the second phase sees capacity improving rapidly which broadly coincide with 1st and 2nd Generation projects. 1st Generation Projects are usually part of a road construction project. 2nd Generation are usually stand-alone projects.

The ‘diagnosis’ of a country safety management system and its effectiveness represents professional appraisal of the state of readiness in a country to move from 1st Generation Projects to 2nd Generation Projects.

Step 2: Set a vision

The vision set for the purposes of the review was that in fifteen years time the Armenia would have in place a robust safety management system that produces high quality safety outcomes on a controllable and sustainable basis.

This vision acknowledges that to achieve parity with best practice safety management systems is going to take sustained effort over a long period of time. However, it is recognized that with sufficient commitment and ambition this vision could possibly be achieved more quickly.

Step 3: Determine phasing of developments.

To achieve the specified vision, three phases of development of the safety management system for Armenia were identified over the fifteen year period. These were defined as the establishment, growth and consolidation phases.

Step 4: Set strategic priorities for each phase

These were set for the strategic elements and related dimensions.

Step 5: Propose a short term package
A five year investment plan was developed to help launch the strategy.
  1. Capacity review findings


System capacity for road safety management

There is clear political interest at the highest level to improve road safety with ambition to achieve the good practice road safety levels achieved in Europe. A Presidential Decree in April 2006 and associated action plan seeks to introduce measures, principally, to improve traffic management and identify various stakeholder responsibilities. They include classifying the road network, defining roles and responsibilities of various ministries in relation to road traffic, providing for new systems of technical inspection and driver licensing, and clarifying the structure of the state traffic police and their functions, against a background of national concern about bribery and corruption. These provide a new general framework for transport and traffic system organization in the Republic of Armenia away from the old Soviet model. While this is to be commended as necessary steps to establish the environment for future effective road safety performance and there are certain actions which in themselves hold promise for road safety, they are not focused on specific outcomes and interventions for road casualty reduction.

At the same time, various Government stakeholders have acknowledged that targeted road safety co-ordination is lacking, that approaches need to change and that the key government stakeholders needed to come together at senior management working level (rather than just at Ministerial level), probably around the establishment of a new national road safety strategy. A useful crash data analysis capacity exists at Armenia Roads, based on provision of data by Police. Computer-based vehicle registration and driver licensing systems are available. Socio -economic costs of road crashes for Armenia have been analysed and an overall estimate prepared (however this was in 2003). The non governmental sector in road safety is developing which can provide a useful contribution. These are important basic strengths which will support future effective road safety performance

In general however, road safety management across Government in Armenia is inadequate and lacks focus and capacity. While new legislation is setting out the parameters of various responsibilities for road safety, responsibilities for strategy development and implementation, in general, are not clearly specified. No one Government Department is giving an effective lead to road safety activity. While some of the responsible agencies have worked together previously within the framework of a World Bank project, the National Road Safety Council established by government in 2001 is no longer operational. There is a serious lack of expert capacity, resources and skills in road safety within the responsible agencies and across government.

Results focus

Achievable and realistic targets for the reduction of road trauma have not been set, the road safety situation is not monitored effectively by any responsible government department, and road crash data is not widely shared. The absence of a GIS-based analysis system inhibits identification of individual high-risk sites throughout the network and the absence of specific road injury data sets in computerised health sector systems inhibits understanding of road injury epidemiology.

Apart from final outcomes, no measurement is carried out of safety performance including key road user behaviours. An in-depth understanding of the problems based on research and analysis of crash data and other indicators is necessary. Challenging but achievable final outcome targets need to be set. Intermediate outcomes need to be identified. Up to date estimates of the socio-economic costs of road traffic crashes need to be made.


The vehicle fleet is old (12 years on average) and of poor safety quality. Road safety engineering activity is not evident in the road network. Traffic management arrangements (as distinct from targeted road safety measures) in urban areas, especially Yerevan, are poor and do not support lower risk driver and pedestrian behaviour. Enforcement activity is currently limited and needs to address key safety rules.

There is a severe lack of equipment in transport, justice and health sectors to carry out effective road safety activity. There is a lack of management capacity in the vehicle safety field and also in road user behaviour field which constrains the ability to develop, recommend to government and when approved, to implement behaviour-related policy improvements. There is need for improvement in access to the pre-hospital medical system and a trauma care system.

Implementation – structure and culture

Leadership of road safety in Armenia is currently lacking and new arrangements need to be put in place to develop capacity which can deliver understanding of the road safety problem (without emphasis on blame – a specific responsibility for prosecution by Police) together with evidence-based and data-led strategies and countermeasures. While road safety management problems have been identified by government, working relationships across government, both vertically and horizontally, are poor and currently impede progress. Against the background of very poor public respect for traffic law, effective multi-sectoral working relationships need to be established urgently at senior managerial level, Director level and Ministerial levels. Following on from the important and substantial reforms in road transport system organization which have been taken recently, a national road safety strategy is needed to set out clear management responsibility on the part of the different government agencies and to provide for effective co-ordination arrangements with a dedicated secretariat. Road safety funding arrangements are inadequate and lack transparency. In general national capacity for dedicated road safety research and development barely exists.