State seeks to lower speed limit on dangerous roads

Indrek Mäe
, reporter
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Photo: Arvo Meeks / Lõuna-Eesti Postimees

Road Administration is compiling a new traffic safety program wherein lower limits are considered where quality is not the 90 km/h kind, to bring down deadly accidents statistics.

Road Administration traffic safety head Erik Ernits says speed is a main issue when safety is concerned. «Thus the speed limits ought to be set so that when a vehicle going at allowed pace encounters an accident, people would not be killed or seriously injured,» explained Mr Ernits.

«Scientific research tells us that when it comes to accidents occurring and severity of consequences, what matters most is speed of vehicles. The rule of thumb is: increased speed by one kilometre an hour raises likelihood of accidents by three percent,» added Mr Ernits.

He added they would be considering what kind of accidents could potentially be happening on certain sections of roads.

In addition to altered speed limits, Mr Ernits said it was important for people to stick to these. «The problem with speeding is that the driver is well aware of the benefit of getting home sooner while not too well aware of the potential loss related to accident hazard and increased fuel consumption,» he said.

Traffic culture was a topic at a recent opinion culture festival where expert and lawyer Indrek Sirk said the setting of limits and fining of violators might not yield desired results as fines only work on part of the people. «A fine only affects those who are generally law-abiding. The hardened pedal-to-metals care not for the fines,» he opined.

Mr Sirk and others at the festival rather blamed the bad Estonian traffic culture for our sour statistics. «An 80 km/h limit will help not, it takes a couple of generations till the traffic gets fixed,» said a participant with 47 years of professional driving under his belt.

Riigikogu Economic Affairs Committee chairman Toomas Kivimägi thinks the limits would not work and proposes for Estonian state to borrow money or impose road tax to make all main roads four-lane. «People would get home faster and safer, and at end of day all would be satisfied,» explained Mr Kivimägi.