According to preliminary data, 48 people lost their lives in road accidents in 2017, which is the lowest annual number of road accident victims ever recorded in Estonia.
Altogether 1,388 serious accidents occurred last year, in which 1,704 were injured and 48 were killed. Compared to 2016, the number of road accidents with victims dropped by 75, while the number of people killed dropped by 22. The number of injured dropped by 140.
Slightly more than half of the people injured in traffic accidents in 2017 were men. The majority of those, 332 people, included road users between the ages of 20 and 29, of whom 202 were men and 130 women. There were more men injured in the next age group up to 59, while among people older than 60, the share of women injured was larger than that of men. In the group of people over the age of 90 the share of men was larger.
Most of those injured in traffic accidents in 2017 were from Tallinn, altogether 543 people. The largest single number of injuries per district, at 147, was registered in the city center.
Outside Tallinn, the city of Tartu with 85 had the highest number of injuries, 14 of which occurred on the city's Riia Street. Tartu was followed by the city of Pärnu with 51 people injured, and the city of Narva with 39 people injured.
Of the 48 people who lost their lives in traffic, ten were pedestrians, four of whom lost their lives in Tallinn. Pedestrians were also injured the most in Tallinn, a total of 180 people. Five of then were injured in the city center. Pedestrians were mostly injured during the evening rush hour, and most of the accidents occurred at pedestrian crossings.
"Crossing the road, pedestrians should make sure they have been noticed. I would like to remind the drivers as well that it is important to keep to the speed limit in the city. By exceeding the limit by 10 km/h, the braking distance increases by at least 10 m, and these 10 m can be fatal to a pedestrian," spokesperson for the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), Sirle Loigo, told the Baltic News Service on Wednesday.
Most of the accidents outside Tallinn that involved pedestrians occurred in Tartu, where a total of 28 were involved in traffic accidents in 2017, followed by Narva with 19 pedestrians, and Pärnu with 18.
495 road accidents were caused by drunk drivers last year, 143 of which resulted in people getting injured or killed. Ten of the people killed in road accidents last year are in this category. A total of 186 were injured in accidents caused by drunk drivers.
Compared to 2016, the number of accidents caused by drunk drivers declined by 57, and the number of people injured dropped by 28. However, the number of people killed increased by two.
Disregarding basic safety measures also contributed to traffic deaths. "Ten people died in traffic last year that had not fastened their seat belt. Those people would be alive today if they had stuck to elementary rules. To avoid such accidents, we need to get to a point with society developing traffic culture where people stick to basic safety requirements when they use the road, and also keep with a few simple rules, like not driving when intoxicated, or not getting in the car with a drunk driver," Loigo said.
"The current dark, rainy, and snow-free time is definitely the most dangerous time in traffic for pedestrians, which is why we are asking both pedestrians and drivers in traffic to be extremely cautious, to pay attention, and what is most important, to care. Everything starts from how much we care about each other. It doesn't matter who has the right of way, we will only stay alive and healthy if road users care about each other. A sign that we need more consideration in our traffic culture is that too many pedestrians still get injured at road crossings today," Loigo said.
Simple things, like fastening your seat belt, can save lives. "For pedestrians, wearing a reflector in this dark time makes you visible and significantly easier for drivers to notice you," Loigo stressed. She added that anyone out walking along the road in the dark can be noticed even better if they carry a flashlight or another source of light.
Editor: Dario Cavegn