Road safety campaign has brought together motorway and rescue workers, firefighters and police officers

Representatives of transport workers, firefighters, paramedics and the police have joined forces to appeal to motorists during an informal road safety awareness day that was held on June 20, 2024. During the event, the police focused on checking drivers on selected road sections undergoing repair and construction work. At the same time, a dedicated road safety campaign targeting motorists took place in Bratislava. The importance of the road safety day was underlined by the tragic events on Slovak roads this year.

For the first time, top representatives of the Ministry of Transport of the Slovak Republic, the Fire and Rescue Service, Presidium of the Police Force and the National Motorway Company (Národná diaľničná spoločnosť, a.s., hereinafter referred to as “NDS”) have joined forces to draw the attention of the public to the road safety day. This initiative, usually focusing on the safety of motorway patrol staff, is currently taking place in eight European countries. This year, in response to the tragic death of two firefighters in Slovakia, the campaign has been extended to all road and motorway workers.     

“This year we have decided to take the campaign to a much broader level in Slovakia. After the tragic incident on the Slovak motorway on May 27, we have extended the campaign to all workers putting their lives at risk on the roads and motorways when helping others in need”, said Igor Choma, State Secretary of the Ministry of Transport of the Slovak Republic. 

According to the data of the Fire and Rescue Corps for 2023, a total of 1900 firefighters intervened on the Slovak roads. Most of these interventions – 285 cases, involved traffic accidents. 

“The tragic event of 27 May 2024, in which two of our colleagues died, two young firefighters who were just doing their job, was caused by something that we could not have prevented from our side. In the aftermath of these events, I welcome the initiative of all parties concerned to improve road safety measures on the roads for all emergency and rescue services and for all the staff providing assistance on the road in any way, “ said Adrián Mifkovič, President of the Fire and Rescue Corps.   

According to the statistics of the National Motorway Company, the number of motorway workers at risk due to accidents caused by other motorists increased by around a quarter between 2022 and 2023. In 2022, 26 staff workers were at risk and in 2023, the number rose to 33. In the first five months of 2024, 9 motorway patrollers were already at risk, and three of them were also injured while working on the motorway. 

“In 2022 and 2023, the traffic accidents caused by other road users accounted for more than 80 % of all the situations in which our colleagues were at risk,” said Filip Macháček, Director General of the National Motorway Company. 

As an example, he mentioned the accident that happened in Bratislava in May this year, when the motorway patrol came to help a motorist who had reported a car breakdown. While helping the driver in need, a truck crashed into the safety cart and the motorway patrol van. NDS staff workers – the patrollers – were not in the car at the time of the collision.   

The initiative also included a police operation focusing on the safety of workers on the roads. The police have carried out special checks of compliance with road traffic rules on several selected sections of motorways and roads where repair and construction works were being carried out. 

“On behalf of the Police Force, I can say that we welcome any initiative aimed at improving road safety not only for road users but for all those who contribute to road safety. However, it is important to realize that road safety is a society-wide issue and each individual should participate and take action. We believe that thanks to this awareness campaign there will be more and more considerate road user who will help and support each other both on the road and in life,” said Colonel PhDr. Tomáš Vrábel, PhD., MBA from the Traffic Police Department of the Police Force Presidium. 

“Since the beginning of 2024, we have recorded 4979 road traffic accidents, with 326 people seriously injured and 112 people killed. Compared to the same period in 2023, there were 4950 road traffic accidents with 370 serious injuries and 100 tragic deaths. Behind every number in the statistics is a human story, a tragedy affecting the lives of many others. Therefore, we appeal to all road users to get behind the steering wheel with the intention of reaching their destination safely,” added Colonel Vrábel. 

During the road safety campaign, there was also an initiative aimed at truck drivers and the general motoring public. At the Zlaté Piesky rest area in Bratislava, the drivers had the opportunity to meet NDS staff workers and try out the rollover simulator.   

The European Day awareness campaign entitled (S)he Works I Care is organised by the ASECAP association. The aim is to draw the attention of the public to the safety of staff working on the motorways. The campaign is supported by ASECAP members operating the road infrastructure network in European countries. Onsite events were held on 20 June 2024 in Austria, France, Croatia, Ireland, Portugal, Italy and Turkey.