Germany's federal statistics office Destatis reported on Wednesday, that a total of 4,477 persons were killed in traffic accidents on Germany’s roads in 2008, which is fewer than in any year since 1950. Compared with the previous year, the number of people killed in road traffic accidents was down by 472 or 9.5%. At the same time, that figure is only about one fifth of the number of persons killed in traffic accidents in 1970, the most dramatic year in accident statistics, when 21,332 people died on Germany’s roads. A ban on alcohol introduced in August 2007 for new drivers has had a positive impact. meanwhile, Irish publicans are lobbying the Government's plan to lower the alcohol drink-drive limit.
The German statistics on road traffic accidents were presented by the president of Destatis, Roderich Egeler, at a press conference held in Berlin on Tuesday. He emphasised that, despite all the efforts made to improve safety in road traffic, there is still an average of twelve people who die in road traffic every day.
The results of the statistics on road traffic accidents also show that, compared with the previous year, the number of persons injured was down in 2008, too, following an increase in 2007. The number of road users seriously injured was down by 6.4% and that of road users slightly injured decreased by 4.9%. Altogether, the police recorded 2.29 million accidents last year. That was 1.8% fewer accidents than a year earlier. Most accidents involved only material damage (86%), while people were injured in every seventh accident.
“Unadapted speed,” as a cause of accident decreased markedly by 9.9% last year. So, “speeding” - - which had been the top cause of accident for many years - - was only the third most frequent driver misconduct in accidents involving personal injury for the first time in 2008. However, accidents for which the police identified “unadapted speed” for at least one person involved, result more often in death or injury than the average of all accidents. 17% of the accidents involving personal injury were “speeding accidents” in 2008, but 38% of all persons killed in traffic accidents lost their lives in speeding accidents.
Among all age groups, young adults aged 18 to under 25 years still had the highest accident risk in road traffic. Although 2008 was the eighth year in a row with fewer young men and women killed in road traffic than the preceding year, every fifth person killed or injured belonged to that age group. When measured by their share in the population (8.3%), young adults thus had a much higher risk of dying in road traffic.
Compared with 2007, the number of 18 to 24 year olds killed in Germany was down by 8.7% to 887 persons. Especially in passenger cars, considerably fewer young people were killed: The number of 18 to 24 year old car passengers killed decreased by 14% or 104 persons. A large part of that decrease is due to the age group of persons aged 18 to 20 years. In that age group, the number of car drivers killed was down by 67 (–21%) and that of car passengers killed was down by 17 (–15%) on the previous year.
Destatis said the ban on alcohol introduced in August 2007 for new drivers seems to have had an impact: In 2008 the number of new car drivers (aged 18 to 20 years) who were under the influence of alcohol and were involved in accidents with personal injury was down by 11% on the previous year. The average decrease among all car drivers, however, was 6.4%.
The statistics office said the ban on alcohol probably had a particularly strong effect on juveniles aged between 15 and 17 years. In that age group, in which driving licenses can be obtained for motor-assisted bicycles and mopeds, the number of persons under the influence of alcohol and involved in accidents was down by even 19% in 2008, from a year earlier.
Irish publicans lobby Fianna Fáil TDs
Irish publicans are lobbying the ruling Fianna Fáil party to block moves by Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey, to lower the drink-drive limit.
The Irish Times reports today that the controversial change could threaten a Yes vote in the October Lisbon Treaty referendum, the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) has warned TDs.
Dempsey is expected to cut the blood-alcohol limit from 80mg to 50mg before the end of the year, though legislation has yet to go before the Cabinet.
The newspaper says the VFI, in a briefing note for TDs, said a cut to 50mg - - effectively limiting drivers to less than one drink - - would destroy 5,000 jobs.
Such a move would “have absolutely no effect” on the numbers of road deaths, said publicans, arguing that the Road Safety Authority has no statistics to justify the move.
Another lobby group representing Irish pharmacists, claims cuts in State payments will result in 5,000 job losses.
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