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Road deaths in Sweden at 60-year low

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15:02 CET+01:00
The number of deaths on Sweden's roads has dropped to a level not seen since the Second World War. Vägverket, the Swedish Road Administration, announced on Monday that there were 440 traffic-related deaths in 2005.

Those numbers represent 40 fewer deaths and a drop of eight per cent from 2004 when 480 road deaths were reported. The improved safety record was most pronounced on smaller roads and among pedestrians, cyclists and moped drivers.

The improvements come despite a rise of one per cent in the total amount of traffic on Swedish roads. Heavy vehicles represent the greatest increase on Swedish roads at four per cent.

According to Vägverket, the decrease of deaths is in part attributed to the fact that more roads are now divided. This has nearly halved the number of collisions of heavy vehicles to 65 from 118 in 2002.

Children are among those benefiting from improved safety, says Vägverket. The 2005 preliminary numbers show that 11 children aged 0-14 died while twice that amount died in 1996. 118 children within the same age range were killed in 1970 comparatively.

The use of seatbelts climbed marginally by a half per cent. It is estimated that nearly 93 per cent of drivers and front-seat passengers buckle up. 84 per cent of taxi drivers use seat belts as compared with 79 per cent in 2004.

The use of helmets for cyclists rose from 21 to 24 per cent in 2005.

The number of newly sold cars with anti-skid braking systems (ESP) reached over 80 per cent in 2005. Vägverket pointed out that is the highest representation in the world.

The final figures for 2005 will be released in April.

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Elizabeth Dacey-Fondelius

Elizabeth Dacey-Fondelius is a freelance writer and communications consultant based in Stockholm.

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