Slovenia seeks answers to a terrible road toll

Now to Slovenia where there's shock at the number of people dying in road accidents. Already this year over two hundred people have been killed on Slovene roads - a terrible toll in a country of just two million people.

Accidents on Slovenian roads claimed six lives over the first weekend in September alone and a total of 209 since the beginning of the year. Considering the fact that Slovenia has only 2 mio inhabitants this is a high number. The death toll in the same period last year stood at 169. In the latest serious accident two Austrian citizens died in a head-on-collision on the motorway between the Slovene/Austrian border crossing Sentilj/Spielfeld and Maribor. According to Ljubo Zajc, the head of the Directorate of the Republic of Slovenia for Roads, major problems causing accidents in Slovenia are:

"The first worrying fact is that the problem of alcohol on Slovene roads is increasing instead of decreasing. The number of deaths or the problem of speeding is also increasing instead of decreasing, as more and more people die due to speeding".

Other problems, according to Zajc, are the lack of police control on Slovenia's roads and additional preventive and media actions are long overdue. A week before the accident near the Austrian border an even more tragic accident occurred in Ljubljana. Five Romanian nationals and two Slovenians died as two cars crashed on the Ljubljana ring road. The crash was caused by a 27-year-old Romanian, who was making a U-turn on a section on the motorway where works were being carried out and was hit by another car. The question that was raised immediately was whether the roadwork sections in Slovenia are adequately secured. Meanwhile, the chairman of the Slovenian Motorway Company Rajko Sirocic said at a press conference following the accident that the section was equipped with adequate signposts.

"Everything that had to be done to secure safety on the road section had been done".

Psychologist Dr. Marko Polic's advice for reducing the death toll on Slovenia's roads is to start educating the youngest.

"The answer lies in a straightforward attitude of society to solve problems peacefully, the answer lies in educating young children, children in kindergarten to acquire a tolerant attitude towards others also on the road and not only in everyday life".

Finally, some statistics: in 1990 over 500 people were killed on Slovenia's roads and in 2003 the number was 242. But it was only temporary relief. Since then, the number of people killed has been on the rise again. This is not a good sign as the five-year strategy of the Slovene parliament declared that the number of people killed in accidents by the end of 2011 should not exceed 124.