"The lack of a system approach to road-user safety" was the core variable. Barriers in relation to RTI prevention were identified as: human factors (divided into two concepts of traffic safety culture and enforcement); transportation system (divided into two concepts of vehicle safety and infrastructure); and organizational coordination. Suggestions for improvement included education (for the general public and targeted group training), more effective legislation, more rigorous law enforcement, improved engineering in road infrastructure, and an integrated organization to supervise and coordinate preventive activities. (Table 1)
Traffic safety culture
All participants pointed out that the current traffic culture of road-users and their safety behaviour are the most important barriers to RTI prevention. Undeveloped traffic culture was particularly pronounced among people who lived in the countryside. Traffic culture was regarded as "knowledge, values and beliefs about safety behaviour and compliance with traffic safety rules".
(P3) Bad driving is a problem in our country. Most car drivers like to drive fast without attention to safety behaviour. (P7) While helmet wearing and seat belt use are compulsory in the country, most motorcyclists don't wear a helmet and it seems they don't believe it....
Most participants pointed out that there is a lack of compliance with traffic law among road-users. Accordingly, some parameters identified in undeveloped traffic safety culture related to: a lack of knowledge of and confidence in traffic law; a sense of urgency in most road-users, which is reflected in their driving behaviour. Moreover, a high volume of trips by private cars were regarded as other barriers affecting road-user safety.
(P2) Most people, especially those living in the countryside, don't know about traffic regulations and they don't have enough information about traffic rules... (P9) young motorcyclists usually don't wear a helmet and some of them don't have a driving licence...
Concerning improving road-users' behaviour, most participants were of the opinion that education is the key to RTI prevention. As they pointed out, this should take the form of campaigns directed at the general public and training targeted at specific groups. The focus of this education should be on changing people's behaviour. A number of suggestions came up e.g.: encouraging calmness and patience among all road-users, increasing knowledge in road-user safety, and introducing traffic calming measures including more and lower speed limits. The mass media, especially television, should be used to achieve many of these goals. However, some professional in the health sectors pointed out that the importance of improvements to the infrastructure rather than simply a focus on road-user behaviour changes could be more effective. On the other hand, target group training was also recommended. This included a more comprehensive training course including road safety training prior to the driving test that needs to be followed up by continuous training, especially for professional drivers and those drivers who are illiterate.
(P16) Traffic safety culture is a problem in the country in relation to road traffic accidents...the best way for its prevention is public education campaigns using mass media, especially television...
According to participants, lack of enforcement was the other important obstacle to safe behaviour among motorized road-users. Moreover, some participants pointed out that traffic violations in Iran are usually punished by imposing fines. For dangerous behaviour, vehicles can be confiscated or driving licenses revoked; however in practice this is difficult. Accordingly, they mainly focus on imposing fines, which however, are relatively low. All participants felt this problem could be addressed by strengthening the legislation, law enforcement and providing modern equipment for traffic police monitoring.
(P4) We believe that the current authority for law enforcement is not adequate and it is difficult for us to punish traffic offences. Since revoking a driving license is a very difficult process, we prefer to not do that...
Most participants pointed to the lack of detailed instructions given by traffic police; old-fashioned police monitoring of traffic behaviour on interurban roads; and a lack of adequate public cooperation with the traffic police as other concerns. Moreover, as expressed by most participants, the legislation needs to be strengthened, the level of fines and other sanctions should be increased, and the issuing of driver's licenses should be more restricted with a greater focus on driving training and skills. However, participants in police office pointed out that during the recent new policy has led to the traffic police being more restrictive in the issuing of driving licenses.
(P14) The current station-based police monitoring of traffic management is out of date and old fashioned; the laws should provide greater authority for police. The main form of punishment for traffic offences is fines which are too low... (P24) It is necessary to install more speed cameras for traffic monitoring.
As pointed out by a number of participants, two important obstacles related to vehicles were identified. Firstly, there is insufficient attention to car fleet safety; there is a lack of standards as regards the safety and crashworthiness of vehicles in the car industries. Secondly, there has been an over-production of vehicles in recent years with insufficient attention to crashworthiness and design safety. As expressed by all participants, a large number of old, even less safe vehicles that are incompatible in terms of speed with newer cars, was another important barrier.
(P2) In recent years a new loan-to-buy system has been implemented, making it much easier to buy a car and resulting in a dramatic increase in both the passenger car fleet and motorized two wheeled vehicles.
According to most participants, some other concerns related to vehicles were the shortcomings in public transport, and a lack of well-designed seat belts and child car seats. Most professional participants pointed out that a lack of air bags and anti-block braking systems (ABS) in most vehicles, very poor safety standards in motorcycles as well as a lack of safety equipment were the other obstacles to vehicle safety. These factors, hand in hand with very cheap petrol and a high volume of trips by private cars, could indirectly make the situation worse.
(P12) In the car industry we think of everything, but little on safety. Petrol is cheaper than water! Which makes the situation even worse...
Suggestions to deal with vehicle safety, expressed by professional participants, included vehicle safety improvements in the car industry and the implementation of research activity for vehicle safety indicators. The participants also suggested that the removal of old vehicles from the roads needs to be more facilitated and periodic vehicle inspection needs to be more rigorous.
(P23) An old car fleet is one important problem. Not only they are unsafe themselves but they are also a danger to other vehicles on the road and we should provide more incentives to remove them from the vehicle fleet...
According to all participants, a large number of problems in relation to the transport system and its safety came up, mainly relating to the one way streets, inadequate road lighting, a lack of special roads for low-speed vehicles, a lack of enough roadside protection, lack of sufficient traffic signs on the roads, a poor overall level of road maintenance and repair as well as a large number of accident black spots. Moreover, a lack of safe routes for pedestrians and cyclists, and incompatibility of high- and low-speed vehicles were other obstacles. As expressed by participants, more traffic signs, quicker road repairs, installation of speed bumps in heavily populated areas and crash barriers in high-risk areas, and more alternative road junctions will all help to reduce crashes at black spots in both the short and the long term. Furthermore, most participants in road administration office and police officers as well as EMS pointed out that a better urban infrastructure including splitting roads up into different lanes, making them wider, and reserving special lanes for emergency services would also help matters.
(P17) There are many accident black spots on the roads throughout the country ... (P21) Traffic police have made substantial efforts to improve road safety, however, due to poor vehicle and road safety design, the number of accident and casualties is still high...
Most participants raised the issue of inadequate communication and coordination between organizations in relation to road safety activities, which was one of the most important obstacles to RTI prevention. As participants pointed out, there are currently several organizations working in the road safety field but they are poorly coordinated. Accordingly, there is no single agency with overall authority and responsibility to make decisions and arrange road safety activities. Some other examples of the lack of coordination, expressed by participants were: the same task being carried out by two organizations; lack of a clear allocation of responsibility for some activities; lack of sustainable planning with regard to road safety activities among sectors. Moreover, participants in health sectors and road administration office as well as police office pointed out that there is no comprehensive information system to register motoring offences in Iran as whole, resulting in no distinction being made between traffic offenders and law-abiding citizens.
Most participants pointed out that the most important factor to decrease RTIs would be a "National Decision", whereby all sectors and road-users would decide to tackle this major national problem. As expressed by participants, it would be possible to devise a future plan and activities. Moreover, according to the participants, road-user safety could be improved by integrating safety activities and research.
(P19) Currently different organizations have responsibility in road safety, but there is no defined organization to coordinate and follow these activities. This problem can result parallel activities for some duties and lack of responsibilities for some others...