Number of traffic deaths lower than expected

A national campaign to reduce the number of traffic fatalities to less than 300 per year is well within reach

Thanks to increased efforts by police and politicians, the number of traffic fatalities this year has fallen dramatically. Now they are ready to take their programme's success a step further.

The number of traffic deaths this year is likely to fall to 275, well under the Traffic Safety Commission's original target of 300. That number was not expected to be reached before 2012. The commission now plans to set the target number down for next year.

'Whenever you exceed your goal, like any good sportsman you want to try to better it, rather than rest on your laurels,' said Karsten Nonbo, the chairman of the Traffic Safety Commission.

Nonbo expects that the number of fatalities will fall to 250 by 2010.

Improved vehicle safety is believed to be a big reason for the drop in fatalities, along with changes in traffic laws that make it easier for police to revoke licences for serious traffic offences.

If the numbers hold steady, the number of fatalities this year will be the lowest since 1935, when the Traffic Safety Commission was founded. At that time, there were only 200,000 vehicles in Denmark, compared to 2.5 million today.

In the fall, the commission, police and politicians will begin working on an updated traffic plan. The current plan is from 1998, and with the development of new technology - such as on-board equipment that can prevent vehicles from speeding - there is good reason to believe that the new plan can reach even loftier goals.

The desire to tighten the traffic plan pleases René la Cour Sell, head of The Danish Road Safety Council.

'It's a wonderfully optimistic message from the politicians on the committee - and quite natural, now that the target number is within reach.'

Parliament must approve the new plan before it is put into effect, but minister of justice Lene Espersen has continually supported efforts towards fewer accidents and traffic fatalities.

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