Recent statistics have suggested that in the Czech Republic, pedestrians are almost twice as likely to die on Czech roads and streets as in other countries in the European Union. This year alone, 125 Czech pedestrians were killed after being hit by vehicles failing to stop. But why is the situation worse in the Czech Republic than in other European countries?
Compared to the European Union average, the number of pedestrians killed on Czech roads is considerably higher. In the EU, according to the average, 14.6 per one million pedestrians die at crossings each year. In the Czech Republic, this number is markedly higher – 22.8. Experts agree that one of the main reasons for the high number of pedestrian deaths is the fact that Czech drivers simply don’t adhere to inner-city speed limits. Václav Špička is a road-safety specialist at the Czech auto club, which monitors the situation on Czech roads.
“The numbers remain high and there are a number of reasons for that. Most importantly, drivers do not adhere to the 50 km/h speed limit in cities, and they do not keep a large enough distance from the vehicle in front of them. When they reach a pedestrian crossing, their braking distance is increased and they fear that the car behind them might crash into theirs. So that’s why drivers tend to not yield to pedestrians.”
But drivers aren’t the only ones to blame; pedestrians; too, need to observe traffic rules far more closely.
“Some pedestrians think that they have an absolute right of way. They don’t realize that cars need a certain braking distance and that they cannot cross traffic right in front of an approaching car without properly looking first.”
What is being done to fix this situation? According to Václav Špička, the problem is being tackled in a number of ways.
“One thing is the technical aspect: making sure pedestrian crossings are well lit, putting speed bumps in front of the crossing, and so on. In addition, a number of organizations, including the auto club of the Czech Republic, are trying to address this problematic situation and inspire the public, both drivers and pedestrians, to learn how to behave correctly in traffic.”
Five of those killed this year at crossings were children and clearly Czech drivers need to begin taking the situation far more seriously than they have to date. While there was a slight improvement over 2008, there is still no strong downward trend and more work needs to be done. Václav Špička again:
“In other European states, all of the measures I was talking were introduced a long time ago and are somewhat of a tradition by now. They don’t pose a problem. But I think in time the Czech Republic will get to the same level as its Western neighbors.”
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