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Traffic deaths double in first half of 2018

Scene of a traffic accident on Tallinn-Narva Highway in Purtse. Jan. 28, 2018.
Scene of a traffic accident on Tallinn-Narva Highway in Purtse. Jan. 28, 2018. Source: (Rene Kundla/ERR)

Altogether 39 people lost their lives and 841 were injured in traffic accidents in the first six months of 2018, which is 16 deaths and 89 injuries more than in the same period of the previous year.

"At present we are moving at the tempo of 2014 with the number of people killed in accidents. Back then, altogether 77 people lost their lives in traffic," Kalmer Tikerpe, lead law enforcement officer at the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), said.

"Accidents in which people were hurt often involved pedestrians, cyclists, bikers, trucks, and buses. Only the number of accidents involving drivers who had consumed alcohol was down by ten, and the number of casualties by three. This is the only positive change compared to 2017," Tikerpe said.

Six pedestrians, two cyclists, and four bikers lost their lives in the first six months of the year. A total of 11 people were killed in accidents involving trucks and buses. Four fatal accidents occurred in Tallinn, while six took place in the remainder of Harju County.

Altogether seven people lost their lives in Tartu County, five in Rapla County, four in Pärnu County, three each in Lääne-Viru and Saare County, two each in Ida-Viru County and Jõgeva County, and one each in Viljandi, Järva, and Võru County.

Several frontal collisions occurred in the first half of this year as well, and it is not known whether these were caused by extraneous activities, health issues, or drivers' errors.

"In the case of four accidents, we suspect that an extraneous activity was one reason why the accident took place," Tikerpe said, hinting at a distraction like e.g. drivers using their phones.

He added that drivers who consumed alcohol as well as extraneous activities may have been the cause for a quarter of the accidents. "The reasons behind the rest of the collisions and driving off the road are either speed, driving errors, inattention, or a health failure. Unfortunately, there are also suicides in traffic," Tikerpe said.

The PPA's approach has shifted somewhat since last year, Tikerpe added: "In raids we've been focusing more on drivers handling their telephones while behind the wheel. In the last six months, altogether 1,875 road users were fined for extraneous activities, but this number paints an incomplete picture, as it doesn't include conversations drivers are involved in, and it doesn't offer an overview either of how noticing a police officer affects the behaviour of a road user. The list of cases only offers an overview of the fines," Tikerpe said.

The number of traffic deaths also depends on the weather. "Most people are disciplined by a wall of snow or rain, but there are drivers who won't reduce their speed. Winter was snowier this year, and with more sunshine than the year before. It sounds contradictory, but both good and bad weather can increase the number of accidents. The weather of course doesn't play the most important role, the driver and their behaviour does. But the weather is always a factor, which is why road users need to change their behaviour according to the conditions they face. Because in the end it's the speed that kills," Tikerpe said.

As of 4 July, altogether 40 people have died in traffic in Estonia in 2018.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

Source: BNS

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