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Swedish road deaths plunge to record low

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12:02 CET+01:00
The wintry weather in Sweden has led to a record low number of road deaths, new figures from the Swedish Road Administration (Vägverket) show.

During January and February accidents on Sweden's roads claimed 32 lives, with only seven in February.

"This is the first time since the 1920s that we have seen a single figure for the number of fatalities in a month," said Lena Erixon, director-general at the administration, to news agency TT.

Large piles of snow at the sides of the roads, and lower speeds on roads with wintry conditions, are some of the reasons given for the low fatality rate. The winter has also meant that fewer two-wheeled vehicles, and their unprotected riders, have been on the roads.

Over the past five years the number of deaths in traffic during January and February has averaged 57. Last year the figure was 42.

Despite its advantages, the snow has caused problems for the Road Administration's budget. Snow clearance during the first two months of 2010 has meant that the operating budget will be exceeded by 170 million kronor ($24 million), presuming that the weather for the rest of the year is normal.

"This means that we will have to spend less money on asphalting roads than previously planned. But on the other hand, we were able to spend more on that last year as the winter was milder than normal," said Lena Erixon.

"We adjust these expenditures over the years," she said.

One uncertain factor with regard to the authority's costs for the severe winter is the frost damage to roads. Frost has impacted even the far south of Sweden this year, which is unusual.

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