Why is August the "black" month for road safety?
Head of safe driving school Jānis Vanks:
For several years in a row, August is one of the "blackest" months on Latvian roads. Statistics show that last year in August, the most people died in road traffic accidents – 20 people. August also ranks among the "blackest" months in terms of the number of road traffic accidents with victims. Why exactly July and high have turned out to be the most dangerous months and what do drivers themselves "blame" for accidents?
20 lives lost
Although it is darker in the autumn and winter months, ice forms more often on the roads, it rains and snows, the grimmest traffic accident statistics are exactly in summer - August, when road accidents took 20 lives in one month. In the summer, when the roads are dry and the light is long, drivers often lose their vigilance and become daring. There are also more motorcyclists, cyclists and inexperienced drivers on the roads at this time. The warm summer months are also a time for parties and events, which means a higher likelihood of someone getting behind the wheel under the influence.
We blame the roads and the weather
Although many drivers recognize that the risks are caused by their own driving habits and culture, there are still many who look for external factors to blame. The data of the "Carlsberg 0.0 responsible driving index" show that 40% of drivers believe that the biggest risks on the roads are caused by their own habits and driving culture, 32% of drivers blame the condition of the roads, another 15% say that the risks are caused by the weather. 6% believe that the risk factor is the permissible level of alcohol in the blood, and 4% that the technical condition of the car. The tendency to blame others is still very common, when in reality we are not self-critical enough, especially when it comes to driving skills. Undeniably, the roads in Latvia are not ideal and there is also room for improvement in the organization of traffic, however, living here, drivers should learn to drive responsibly even in such conditions.
We pay attention to many side things
It is interesting that about a third of drivers blame the roads, another part blames the weather, however, when it was studied how many drivers are busy with other things while driving, it was found that 35% of drivers tend to talk on the phone while driving without using the hands-free system, 34% - drink coffee, but 24% tend to eat while driving. If so many people find time for other things while driving, then the infrastructure is not to blame. Driving on a bad, dangerous road, we would hardly find time for a coffee and a conversation on the phone.
Car assistants – help or additional risk
When it comes to road safety, a paradox should also be highlighted - modern cars are equipped with assistants and are becoming easier to drive. If the driver is responsible, the assistants help to drive, park the car, etc., but some drivers start to feel too safe thanks to the equipment and lose their vigilance. It is good if the car is equipped with modern equipment, but this does not mean that the driver does not have to think for himself anymore.
A large part of Latvian drivers believe that they drive better than other drivers. We overestimate our abilities, often only because we have not had to experience dangerous and extreme situations on the road. Every driver should be aware that an accident does not approach with advance notice - accidents happen in the blink of an eye, so you must not lose vigilance and concentration.
Mandatory training for driving in extreme conditions
I think our confidence and bravado on the road would be diminished if every driver learned how to drive in extreme conditions. Year after year, accident statistics prove that we still have a lot of homework to do. One of them could be mandatory training in driving in extreme conditions, which every driver would have to undergo within a certain period of time after obtaining a driver's license. If this is not done, the responsible authorities would have the right to cancel the driver's license. Such an arrangement exists, for example, in Slovenia, where in 2021 there were 54 deaths per million inhabitants in road traffic accidents, while in Latvia - 78. Undeniably, such mandatory training would create additional costs, however, human life cannot be valued in money.