TALLINN - Following a spate of tragic road accidents, the government appealed for drivers to place black ribbons on their vehicles on Aug. 18 to draw attention to the nation's mounting road toll.
Last week, three young men were killed in a collision near the resort town of Parnu. Police said one of the vehicles was spotted by a patrol car driving at 200 kilometers per hour (124 miles per hour) shortly before the crash.
It was the latest in a string of fatal accidents during the summer, bringing this year's road toll to 97.
Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said black ribbons were distributed to government ministers to fasten to their cars, and he encouraged other drivers to do the same.
The head of government said the main problem on Estonian roads was careless driving and a poor attitude to road safety.
"Usually there are other people aware that somebody is taking the seat behind the wheel while drunk, and it happens with somebody's approval," Ansip said.
He denied there was a shortage of police on the roads.
"There are currently 3,334 policemen in Estonia, and they daily perform their duties in an exemplary manner. The police can never in any country prevent all traffic accidents," Ansip said.
The prime minister said there was no need to talk about allocating more funds for a traffic safety program.
"No traffic sign or four- to eight-lane road will make anyone more cautious. For some reason we have the mentality that all the policemen have left for Finland and so you can step on it," the prime minister said.
According to Road Administration statistics, 25 people were killed in traffic accidents in July, six more than in June and 10 more than last July.
In all, 97 people have been killed in traffic in the first seven months of the year. Last year that figure was 86.
Drunk drivers have been responsible for 18 deaths, 246 accidents and 389 injuries this year so far.
People injured in traffic in July totaled 339, and the number of serious traffic accidents was 240 during the month.
There were a total of 1,265 serious traffic accidents between January and July this year, compared to 1,221 last year.
Interior Minister Kalle Laanet said that the authorities had appealed to people to have more consideration in traffic before.
"The situation can be changed to a certain extent by means of penal measures, but first of all the matter lies in the way people think. It is the attitude that has to be changed and this is something people can do themselves," Laanet said.
Estonia's worst month on the roads occurred in July 1997, when 30 people were killed.