Crackdown on roads reduces casualties

  • 2004-08-26
  • By Julia Balandina
RIGA - Minister of Interior Eriks Jekabsons on Aug. 19 met with representatives of the state police, the public order police and the highway police to discuss progress in traffic safety.

A main focus of the meeting was a plan by the public order police to curb last month's number of fatal accidents. According to Jekabsons, 26 people died in highway accidents during the first half of July. The figure has fallen to 14 deaths during the same period in August.
"A small improvement of the situation is obvious, but my main conclusion, which I made while participating in police spot-checks, is that society's legal and moral consciousness is on a very low level. And this is the reason for accidents - an absolutely irresponsible and impudent breaking of traffic rules," said Jekabsons.
The minister added that Traffic Police Chief Visvaldis Pukite would not be fired, as had been previously considered.
Some 262 people died on Latvia's roads in the first seven months of the year, up a staggering 22 percent year-on-year. The number of intoxicated drivers for this same period amounted to 5,461.
Daily deployment of officers will be based on an analysis of dangerous roads, and more attention will be paid to violations on the part of pedestrians and cyclists. The government also plans to organize various training courses and seminars for police officers to improve their work and rectify drawbacks.
The proposed plan to decrease accidents does not include installing hidden cameras on some of the country's problematic roads - such as the Riga - Jurmala highway - a ministry spokesperson said.
In conjunction with the Transport Ministry and the highway traffic safety administration, work on a new bill, which aims to confiscate cars from those drivers repeatedly caught intoxicated or without a license, will start soon.
"I believe that the highway police's performance in improving traffic safety in the past month has been acceptable. But at the same time, it can't be acceptable while people are still perishing in car accidents," concluded Eriks Jekabsons. "Even one death is too many."