In spite of the rapid increase of the motor vehicle fleet, the Estonian road safety level remains as one of the worst in Europe. Comparison of two basic safety indicators with neighbouring countries shows the huge difference:
- Fatality risk per 100 000 population during the years 1998 -2002 was 16.8 in Estonia (compared with 6.8 in Norway, 6.3 in Sweden and 8.4 in Finland)
- Fatality risk per 100 million km of exposure is 4.3 in Estonia (Norway 0.9; Sweden 0.8; Finland 1.0)
The main reasons for the poor road safety level in Estonia are:
- poor attitudes in society towards road safety;
- lack of systematic development of road safety activities;
- deficiencies in children's traffic education;
- deficiencies in driver training;
- poor attitude towards road safety from drivers and pedestrians;
- drinking and driving;
- low level of safety restraint usage;
- lack of infrastructure development.
The most important issues from those mentioned above are: children's traffic education, driver training, poor attitude to traffic safety from all groups of travellers, alcoholism, usage of safety restraints and poor quality of the road policy effort.
If Estonia should be able to reach the EU average level by 2015, the number of fatalities should not exceed 100. The gap between traffic safety level between neighbouring Nordic countries and Estonia would then be two to three times smaller than present. Reaching these goals needs the introduction of serious safety measures as well as large financial resources.
On the basis of this a strategic goal for Estonia, titled 'Basic Scenario or Vision 100' can be declared.
Suggested measures deal with five important road safety activities:
- Shaping the attitudes;
The programme has been approved by the government and has been discussed in parliament. The National Safety Programme will be implemented through three-year operational plans. At the regional level activity plans will be created.
Implementation of the programme is co-ordinated by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. All other relevant ministries will participate in process as well. Relevant consultants, universities including international will be included in R&D process (e.g. Tallinn Technical University, consulting firms and others).
Concerning the network of main roads, a sub-programme with priorities has already been completed by the Estonian National Road Administration.
Applications related with projects
Improvement of present legislation and development of new traffic safety related legislation;
Programmes for traffic safety education and training;
Development of means to change poor safety attitudes;
Traffic related monitoring and development of relevant databases (including mileage studies, traffic speeds);
Development of a traffic safety police unit dedicated to road traffic safety;
Ageing population issues in Estonia;
Improvements for pedestrians and cyclists;
Automatic speed control development;
Study of problems connected with tyres of cars including winter tyres and related environmental issues;
Locating accidents, including use of GPS;
Development of teams to investigate serious accidents;
Training of road police (supported by Finnish Police).