Russian traffic police mark professional holiday

Russian traffic police officers are celebrating their professional holiday on Sunday.

The State Automobile Inspectorate, known today as the State Road Traffic Safety Inspectorate, was established on July 3, 1936, by the Council of People’s Commissars, a Soviet government institution.

One of the key tasks of traffic police is to reduce the number of deaths on the country’s roads. Over 26,000 people died on Russian roads in 2010, down 23% from the 2004 figure of 34,000.

Punishments for drunk driving and other gross violations, including vehicles illegally pulling into the oncoming lane, have been toughened in Russia in recent years, which resulted in drivers becoming more disciplined.

However, there still remain the problems of bad-quality roads and of VIP vehicles carrying blue flashing lights known as “migalki,” which are often used by businessmen and officials to bypass traffic rules.

Two women were killed last February when their car collided head-on with a Mercedes equipped with migalki belonging to Anatoly Barkov, the vice-president of Russian oil giant Lukoil. No charges were brought despite evidence that the executive’s car pulled into the oncoming lane.

In January, a woman was seriously injured after her car collided with Russian presidential envoy Garry Minkh’s chauffeured BMW.

Traffic police say the key tool in fulfilling the task to reduce the number of road accidents is to prevent violations of traffic regulations.

“We need to make violation of traffic rules unfashionable and indecent. Only in this case will we be able to overcome the situation with traffic accidents and make our roads safer,” a traffic police spokesman said shortly before the 75th anniversary of his service.

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