Campaign allows drivers to choose between monetary fine and crash test

Photo: CTK

Organisers from the Transport Ministry’s Road Safety department (BESIP), in cooperation with Czech and German police, launched a one-day campaign in North Bohemia on Tuesday monitoring drivers on the D8 highway. Police stopped motorists and truckers most often for failure to use their seatbelts. But instead of automatically handing them fines, police offered them a choice: to pay up, or take a spin in a crash simulator instead.

Photo: CTK
Police on the D8 highway in the Ústí region on Tuesday stopped more than 60 truckers and motorists but did not hand out a single ticket. Instead, they offered drivers an unusual option: pay two thousand crowns (the maximum fine for failing to use one’s seatbelt for example) or try out one or two crash tests. One simulated a car’s impact at 30 kilometres an hour; another, a car flipping onto its roof. Not surprisingly, all those caught by the police selected the second option rather than to ave to pay. And, regional road safety coordinator Jan Pechout says many came away wiser for having taken the test.

“Today, almost one hundred percent of car drivers use their seatbelts but with truckers the situation is only around 80 percent. Many argue that they drive a big vehicle and that nothing will happen to them. But then we remind them what it’s like to crash head on.

Jan Pechout,  photo: Alžběta Švarcová
“After taking the impact test on Tuesday many were surprised: afterwards we overheard them on their CBs. Under normal circumstances they would have been complaining in colourful language that they’d been stopped by the cops: but on Tuesday many discussed what it was like to take the impact test.”

According to Jan Pechout, most motorists and truckers after the test were unable to guess how fast they were going, and a good many were caught off guard by the jolt of impact even though they had been warned in advance. The safety coordinator for BESIP says, in short, the test is very effective in getting a simple message across. The biggest eye-opener for drivers was how crashing at ‘just’ 30 kilometres felt:

Photo: CTK
“For most, the jolt was shocking and was ‘enough’. If you weigh 80 kilos during the test for a tiny moment - half a second - the G- forces go up rapidly multiplying mass many times over to around 3,000 kilos. If you crashed at 50 kilometres per hour, the impact would be seven tonnes. So it gave them a good idea of what happens when you don’t use your seatbelt and how easily it can prove fatal. Afterwards, most of those we spoke to thought the test simulated a crash at 80 or 100 kilometres per hour. They were surprised when we told them it was just 30.”

Tuesday’s campaign, called ‘Pokuta, nebo bum bác’ (A fine or... Bam!) was the second in a row and will return on the D8 again next year. Officials from other regions, witnessing its effectiveness on site, are now considering their own campaigns.