Editorial: on the road to safer traffic

Esimesel päeval oli Ülemiste liiklussõlmes autosid vähe ja liiklus sujus tõrgeteta.

PHOTO: Toomas Huik

Hearing a politician talk on traffic culture usually sounds like the age-old political satire of «forming a committee» for deep research on something i.e. sweeping the subject under carpet. Like any culture, traffic culture is shaped over a longer period of time and a decision or – in Legalese – a measure will never bring fast results.

The borderless Europe of today being multicultural, traffic thereof is as colourful and varied. In Greece and Sweden, honking the horn may mean things totally different. In France, parking may be an experience somewhat other than in Holland. A common understanding of traffic may not come easy; even so, we should not sit idle in matters related to road safety. All told, traffic deaths and injuries are tragic. Always.

Over the years, steps quite successful have been taken by the European Commission, to make cars safer and more pocketbook/environment-friendly. The norms imposed on internal combustion engines, stricter by the year, have served to advance technology. New cars equipped with the eCall emergency system is yet another weighty decision. Sure, the system needs to be tested in practice, thereafter improved. Car makers/developers are ready to hop aboard: for them, a safer car equals a selling point.

Making alcohol interlocks mandatory, in EU, is not really a technological issue – rather, a social one. Country-wise, the tolerance towards taking the wheel after a glass of wine or a bottle of beer does vary. Even so, certain consensus has been reached regarding the lock, as with school buses, as claimed in today’s Postimees by EU transport commissioner Siim Kallas. That, if true, would be welcome.

Surely, new requirements always come with a nasty risk attached. That of increased bureaucracy. Like when people feel, at technical inspection of cars, forced to deal with some kind of officialdom, wasting time and often extra money to obtain yet another slip of paper. Sensing such pressure, people will be searching for ways to obtain the document with less toil and lower financial loss.

It is therefore vitally important for any requirement to be carefully considered. Then, even with increased payments demanded for inspections or requirements raised, people would feel that traffic would indeed be safer and the «measure» therefore in our common interests. Traffic culture thus also improving. Over time.