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2017 – the safest year for Latvia’s roads

Photo: pixabay.com.
Last year turned out to be the safest year for Latvia’s roads. This is because the number of deaths caused by traffic accidents turned out to lowest in recent years – 134, which is 15% less when compared with 2016. This also includes the lowest number of pedestrians who died in traffic accidents – 50, which is 9% less when compared with 2016, as reported by Latvian Transport Ministry.

The ministry notes that Latvia is one of the leaders among EU member states when it comes to reducing the number of deaths on roads. 158 deaths in 2016 was the lowest index in the country’s history, and the 16% decline in comparison with 2015 was the fourth most rapid decline of deaths in the European Union.

«We have carried out measures in the past 20 years to significantly reduce the number of deaths in traffic accident: regulations were expanded, a system for administering violation points was introduced, new road traffic control technologies were introduced, infrastructure improvements were added, and education campaigns were organized,» BNN was told by the ministry.

As a result of those measures, the number of deaths in traffic accidents in Latvia has declined four times since 2000 – from 635 in 2000 to 134 in 2016. The number of people injured in road traffic accidents has declined 9% (5,402 injured in 2000 and 4,942 injured in 2017).

«Thanks to regular informative campaigns, the number of people using safety belts while sitting in front seats has reached 81%. The number of accidents caused by drunk drivers has declined seven times in 2017 when compared with 2000,» Transport Ministry notes.

Although available data points to a declining number of traffic accidents, their number per 1 million residents remains the highest in Latvia among EU member states. This is why institutions still have a lot of work to do.

Informed drivers driving safe

Movement towards a common goal – better traffic safety – relies heavily on proper training of drivers and testing process. One of the most recent improvements is the introduction of video questions in exams starting from 2018 in spring. This is expected to motivate drivers to predict and notice dangerous traffic situations, as well as train skills for risky situations, the ministry reports.

«Traffic safety is unimaginable without safe cars. This is why introduction of modern technologies in the technical inspection process is expected to benefit the situation,» the ministry continues.

Infrastructure improvements

Transport Ministry emphasizes that improving traffic safety in recent years required major investments in state road infrastructure. Educational campaigns were organized to teach drivers the specifics of driving in different seasons of the year and provide safe driving tips.

«Thanks to investments in state roads, the number of improved and restored roads has increased 22% since 2012. In 2012, 35% of Latvia’s state roads were in good state. Now, on the other hand, there are 57.3% of such roads in the country. The main roads are the ones used the most intensely in the country. By performing repairs in the country’s road network it was possible to improve traffic safety in locations where traffic accidents were previously common. Road reconstruction projects have helped rebuild intersections, liquidate left turns and perform other improvements,» the ministry told BNN.

Lighting systems were installed along pedestrian and bicycle paths where possible to increase safety of less-protected traffic participants.

Road control

According to the ministry, one of the most effective tools for improving traffic safety is regular control of traffic participants. «This can be provided using stationary and mobile radar systems. There will be 100 stationary radars on Latvian roads next year,» the ministry says.


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