The conditions on road change as the seasons change, which contributes to the number of road accidents. According to data of the Road Traffic Safety Directorate (CSDD), since the beginning of 2018, a total of 31,669 road traffic accidents have been registered, involving death of 101 person. Compared to the same period of the previous year, 33,207 road traffic accidents were registered within 9 months of 2017, where 97 people died. BTA Baltic Insurance Company (BTA) advises drivers to observe the permitted speed limit and take account of the situation on road and weather conditions to avoid unpleasant situations on the road and accidents.
Autumn, being one of the worst periods in terms of traffic safety, when days quickly keep shrinking and the portion of road to be driven during the dark hours or dusk keeps increasing, fog and precipitation are other factors affecting the visibility. Taking care of the safety of all road users, a reduced speed limit of 90 km/h takes effect as of October, in places, where it has been 100km/h during summer. BTA advises drivers to use the maximum permitted speed only when there is good visibility of the road and the weather conditions are good, reducing the driving speed each time, when visibility gets poorer and the road is slippery or bumpy, thus increasing the level of danger.
BTA Insurance Claims Handling Department Director Kārlis Liepiņš says: “To be on the safe side, it is better reducing the speed and driving slower, so that, in case of necessity, the driver could timely react to a potentially dangerous situation and avoid traffic accident. Also, during the last month, the public attention was caught by the head-on collisions on Latvian roads, where people got killed. Our data indicate that the severest road traffic accidents in autumn happen on major Latvian motorways. In 2017, we received 1790 CASCO and 2030 MTPL insurance claims for accidents during the autumn period, which involved driving off road, collision with animals, bumping into the car ahead, as well as accidents involving collision with an oncoming car. BTA requests drivers to be responsible and give good consideration to the situation on road. A couple of metres could be decisive – being safe or getting in a road traffic accident. Stepping on the gas pedal does not require great mastery, mastery is to stop the car in time to avoid an accident and getting safe to the destination.”
Traffic safety expert Oskars Irbītis says that in the dark hours of the day, drivers should pay particular attention to the lights of their cars. Headlights should be checked for adjustment, drivers should also check the functioning of brake lights, sidelights, and fog lights, in front and back of the car.
“Visibility is one of the factors, closely related to the most widespread road traffic accident types – hitting a pedestrian, cyclist, and hitting an animal. Rain, falling leaves and first ice-tops on the road surface can bring you a nasty surprise – a sudden loss of tyre grip strength on road and thus resulting in a considerably longer distance of coming to a halt, potential sliding off road risks in sharper road turns, and a risk of drifting when making sharper turns. Caution is what matters when overtaking. Overtaking becomes even riskier in autumn because of more slippery roads and drop of visibility, especially in foggy weather. In foggy weather, the ability of drivers to appropriately measure the distance to objects is reduced, and up goes the risk of running into an oncoming car,” says O. Irbītis.
Traffic safety experts tell us that there is much discussion about speed and its effect on road traffic accidents. When choosing the driving speed, one should give a critical assessment to his or her driving skills, the ability to handle the car safely given the particular environment conditions. Autumn is a time, when this ability should not be overestimated. One of the essential aspects in selecting speed is visibility – we should estimate – how far actually we are able to see in the autumn darkness and fog, what is the effect of falling leaves and rain, what is the likelihood of spotting a pedestrian or animal on the road. Definitely, the common speed of this dry and warm summer will not be safe in autumn.
BTA Baltic Insurance Company is one of the leading insurance companies in the Baltics, offering the broadest range of non-life insurance services in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. BTA employs more than 1,000 employees in the Baltics. The largest shareholder of BTA is Vienna Insurance Group AG with 200 years of experience in the insurance industry. More than 50 companies in 25 countries constitute the group, which employs 25,000 employees. Vienna Insurance Group AG is a clear leader in its core markets in Europe maintaining high rating of financial stability – Standard & Poor’s A+ (stable outlook), with a listing on the Vienna and the Prague Stock Exchange.
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