AutosSanctions and old cars fuel Russia's deadly roads crisis

Sanctions and old cars fuel Russia's deadly roads crisis

A frame from one of the recordings from Russia
A frame from one of the recordings from Russia
Images source: © Autokult | Dashcam Russia

5:47 PM EDT, April 24, 2024

2023 has starkly highlighted that road safety in Russia remains largely theoretical. Experts attribute this to sanctions, warning that the worst may still be ahead.
According to the Russian "traffic police," 2023 has been one of the grimmest years for road accidents, with 132,500 incidents recorded, leading to 14,508 fatalities. This marks an increase from 2022, which saw 126,700 accidents and 14,172 deaths, as reported by the service polon.pl.

The Russian service Kommersant suggests that these tragic figures can be traced back to sanctions. Freight traffic has shifted from the west to the east, where the road infrastructure is vastly inferior. Additionally, with more Russians opting for domestic vacations, there's been a surge in personal vehicle use. Compounding the issue is the increase in cars imported from Japan, which are designed for left-hand traffic and feature right-side steering wheels.

In the first quarter of 2024, there was a slight improvement—a 2.2 percent decrease in fatalities. However, Peter Szkumatow, a safety expert, cautions that such decreases are marginal and may be short-lived. Historically, Russia has seen a spike in accidents from summer through winter.

Vehicle condition also plays a crucial role; nearly 70 percent of cars in Russia are over ten years old. Notably, in February and March, the most popular used vehicle in the east was the Lada 2107, with 11,500 units sold, followed by the Lada 2114 (Samara) with 10,800 units.
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