Rise in road deaths a cause for concern in Latvia

The number of road traffic fatalities in Latvia has risen by 13% so far this year year, said Normunds Krapsis, head of the State Police's Traffic Safety Department, in an interview with LTV's Morning Panorama news show.

76 people lost their lives on Latvian roads during the first seven months of the year and "our eight month statistics are also not positive, with 13% more killed than [in the same period] last year," said Krapsis.

"The situation is not good," he underlined.

He said that the total number of accidents and the number of casualties had fallen slightly, but that the traffic safety situation was assessed by the number of fatalities and serious injuries, which had risen.

One of the causes of major accidents, which has long been discussed, is the poor state of road  infrastructure, followed by the poor state of vehicles themselves.

Krapsis pointed out that as roads are unlikely to improve in a hurry, it is up to drivers to take even more care when behind the wheel.

The current trend for electric scooters was a fresh cause for concern, he added, suggesting that pedestrians and scooter riders were having more and more problems sharing the sidewalk due to a lack of cycle lanes. 

With schools due to return next week, police and road safety authorities are urging drivers to take extra care.

As previously reported by LSM, Latvia's roads are consistently ranked among the most dangerous in the European Union, though over the long term there has been an improvement.

According to the figures of the Latvian State Police, in 2018, 148 people died on Latvian roads, an increase on the figure for 2017 (136 deaths) but not as high as 2016's figure (157 deaths).

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