Traffic Safety Situation Still Far from Perfect, Says New Police Chief
Elmar Vaher, appointed to lead the Police and Border Guard Board nearly two months ago, has called on people to be more vigilant on the nation's streets and roads, warning that the traffic safety situation is not good.
After March ended as the first road-fatality-free month since World War II, the following month and a half saw accidents claim the lives of 12 people, Vaher told ETV today.
“The police would like to tap in on the consciences of people as Midsummer and summer parties are on the horizon and the police will be harsh in their reactions [to violations]. It might not bode well with people that we are out there measuring speed and stopping drivers for breathalyzer tests. That is all aimed at keeping you alive,” he said.
Vaher said that police had caught 37 drunk drivers in the past 24 hours and are generally stepping up checks. He also noted that police are planning to begin confiscating vehicles.
The head of the Road Administration, Aivo Adamson, said that his organization will be adding new traffic cameras, which should help to discipline and calm drivers.
Traffic fatalities in numbers
Only four people died in traffic accidents in the first quarter of 2013, 25 fewer than during the same period of last year.
According to Statistics Estonia however, second quarter figures will be closer to those of a year earlier (18) given that the current quarter's figure has already reached 12, including two motorcyclists who died in an horrific crash near Tallinn at the beginning of June.
In 2011, the government tightened its goal in cutting traffic deaths. Its earlier aim was to bring the annual total below 100 by 2015. It has now set the bar at no more than 70. Bringing the figure down into double digits was achieved last year (87), only the second time on record.
Fatality numbers have been in steady decline since the beginning of the 90s, when they were comparatively astronomical. In 1991, traffic accidents claimed the lives of nearly 500 people.