Traffic supervision in Estonia should be made mobile and more effective and laws should be changed if necessary to enable this, Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson (Centre) and Minister of the Interior Andres Anvelt (SDE) said at an emergency meeting on Monday that focused on seeking ways to improve road safety in Estonia.
Simson said that while 2017 stood out as the year with the all time lowest number of road deaths in Estonia, in the first five months of this year, the situation has clearly deteriorated in contrast, spokespeople for the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications said.
"It would be irresponsible to just look on and wait for things to get better on their own," she said. "This is why we need to step in and try and find measures to improve the road traffic picture."
While the government responded to the problem over the winter by allocating additional funds for road maintenance, the death toll has nonetheless continued to rise over the summer. Thus a more systematic approach must be taken to adress the issue, the minister said.
Anvelt, meanwhile, said that municipalities could be granted greater powers to be actively involved in traffic supervision within their territory.
"This is not an order, but a possibility," he clarified. "When a municipality invests in a speed camera, part of the fine should belong to them." He added that this would give municipalities a choice regarding whether to be active in prevention or take part in surveillance.
The Ministry of the Interior is seeking the best opportunities for the Estonian police to introduce mobile speed cameras. Whether a speed camera should be a device whose location is changed every day or each police vehicle should record violations automatically will become clear this autumn. Estonia is working closely in this with Lithuania, spokespeople for Ministry of the Interior said.
"We will also review punishment statistics for the past years in the part where the police issued a warning in the case of less serious violations," Anvelt said. "Maybe there is reason to tougher, but that will be revealed by an analysis to be conducted by the police."
Also discussed at the meeting were the dangers imposed by distracted driving, such as talking or texting on a mobile phone. "We will change the law if necessary to make non-driving-related activities subject to a fine," the minister added.
Anvelt is expecting proposals from police leaders by mid-August concerning short- and long-term measures for improving the road safety situation.
Director General of the Police and Border Guard Board Elmar Vaher said that while the same number of officers as always is on the roads conducting traffic supervision, the intensity of traffic has grown.
In the first five months of 2018, the number of car crashes was up 8%, the number of people injured in car crashes up 10% and the number of crash fatalities up 45% on year.
Editor: Aili Vahtla