Around 1,24 million people die in road accidents every year worldwide. The figure is quite alarming in Georgia as it’s almost twice as high as the average mortality rate in all EU countries.  That is why different states are developing systematic strategies and improving legislation to significantly reduce the number of road traffic deaths.

Following the child transportation safety standards is particularly important as the children and infants are in need of different safety care. For example, under the plan developed by the UN General Assembly, mandatory use of special child seats and additional padding is one of the most effective strategies to ensure the children’s safety on board.

Under the law of Georgia, child transportation with special seats is not mandatory. In addition, the awareness of parents on child transportation safety is low.

Nino Gogotishvili is the founder of the “Elli Foundation”. She established the Foundation to raise awareness about child transportation safety in 2016. Nino makes lots of effort to ensure that the use of child seats is mandatory in Georgia. In addition, she works actively with parents as mainly they are the ones who need to be properly informed about the importance of car seat use while driving.

Nino Gogotishvili, 43, founder of the “Elli Foundation:

I was born on September 11, 1976, in Tbilisi. I am a teacher, art critic, and social worker. However, my profession has never been the motivation to establish my Elli Foundation.

My child passed away in a road accident in Tbilisi three years ago. Later, my husband and I came up with the idea to create a foundation to raise awareness about child transportation safety.

We registered the Foundation and launched the activities with donations back in 2016. In order to ensure the information campaign effectiveness, we decided to distribute the car seats to parents free of charge. As donations increased we could afford to purchase the car seats ourselves. We have helped around 320 families with a total of 420 car seats until now. We first handed the child seats to families who realized the purpose of their use and wished for the child’s safety. We supported some families financially, transferred half of the cost to get a seat and take care of their children’s safety.

The Foundation is now sponsored by private donations. German foundation “Ein Herz für Kinder” (A Heart for Children) supported us two years ago. With this donation, we were able to purchase car seats for 130 children at the same time. Currently, we help only the children with disabilities as they are the ones who constantly need a properly selected seat for safe travel. Parents of children with disabilities can contact us for detailed information – Car seat to protect the lives of children.

The use of the child seat is not mandatory in Georgia. Transportation of a child sitting on the knees of an adult is allowed. This case is dangerous as if the road accident happens the weight of the adult is added to the child’s weight and the impact force increases. Parents generally are not aware of this detail. Parents should also consider that proper selection of a car seat, examining the kid’s weight and height, is also essential for the children’s safety.

The state is definitely required to tighten the Law on Traffic to ensure the children’s safety while driving.
After the Foundation was established we have met with many lawmakers in parliament. We wanted to gain their support in lightening the Law on Traffic. They would agree at first but no longer cooperated with us, thus we were not able to finish the case. The lawmakers explained that obliging parents to buy a car seat for a child would raise the issues of the financial burden on families. I do not share this approach.

I dream Georgia to become equal to Sweden where the number of physical injuries of a child in road accidents is zero. According to the statistics of the last five years, as a result of road accidents, children in Sweden experience only minor injuries – No life-threatening cases have been reported. This is why my Foundation exists – I wish to have similar statistics in Georgia, I wish our roads to be safe for children.
The main job at my Foundation is done by volunteer girls – employees who work hard and do not get paid. Volunteer girls personally meet the little ones and their parents, hand them the seats, diligently explain the rules for its proper use and assist to install the seat in the car. The girls often receive many thanks and kind words from parents and children that motivates them more.

My story has  never been published in the media before. I never aimed at people knowing about me. I decided to have an interview with you as the media is less interested in child transportation safety today and they do not cover this issue anymore. High public interest and involvement two years ago have contributed much to achieve many useful results.

Parents often contact and thank me, which is very nice. It makes me very happy to hear that parents who were handed car seats two years ago now have bought another proper seat considering the child’s age and weight. However, I receive many unpleasant letters as well. Some parents think we are able to help everyone but we refuse to support intentionally, that is not true, of course.

Since the Foundation was established I have realized that every woman can change the world. We have a constant responsibility for our children, family, and society. We should definitely realize this responsibility, we should not be lazy to initiate to solve the existing problems and challenges. Helping others has become a part of my life. Now I can’t even imagine my life the other way.

Author: Lana Giorgidze

This article was prepared in the frame of the project ” Promoting new women leaders and ‘invisible women’ human rights activists” implemented by IREX Europe in partnership with Human Rights House Tbilisi, with financial support from the European Commission. The views in this article do not necessarily express the views of the European Commission.