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Largest drop ever in road accidents

This car ran into a tree ten days ago to avoid a head-on collision with a truck. Keystone/Kantonspolizei St. Gallen

Twenty per cent fewer deaths in road accidents were reported in 2005 compared with the previous year. The Federal Statistics Office said 409 people died.

It said in a statement on Friday that the lowering of permitted blood-alcohol levels for drivers, which came into effect at the beginning of 2005, was a likely factor.

There was also an eight per cent drop to 5,059 in the number of injuries as a result of road accidents. The number killed has been declining steadily since 1995 when nearly 700 people died, but the annual average drop was only 3.4 per cent, making the 2005 figures exceptional.

The police suspect that 15 per cent of the accidents involved drivers under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medications. Within this category, alcohol played a role in nine out of ten cases, drugs in two out of ten and medications in five out of 100.

Since the permitted level of alcohol in the blood was lowered to 0.5 milligrams per millilitre, the number of drivers injured or killed decreased by 14 per cent.

Louis Fluri of the Statistics Office told swissinfo that the decline was not due to the lowering of the permitted alcohol levels alone, but more police road checks to prevent drinking and driving.

“The BFU (Swiss Council for Accident Prevention) also ran campaigns to raise awareness of the lower level, and that probably had some effect as well,” Fluri said.

Cars and cyclists

Of the 409 deaths, 178 died in cars compared with 232 the previous year. The average age of a person killed in their vehicle was 46.

The number of cyclists killed last year dropped from 42 to 37 and there were 12 fewer motorcycle deaths (114 in 2004, 92 in 2005). Pedestrians accounted for 69 fatalities, a drop of 26, and 33 people died while travelling by “other” means of transport.

Traffic deaths made up only 0.6 per cent of the total number of people who died in Switzerland last year.

The early 1970s were the worst years for road accidents when the annual average was around 35,000. Not surprisingly, the highest number of road fatalities was also registered during this period, with a record 1,773 deaths in 1971.

swissinfo with agencies

The leading cause of death in Switzerland in 2005 was circulatory disease, which accounted for 38% of the 63,000 fatalities registered.
About 15,500 people died of cancer, or 24.5% of the total.
At the lower end of the scale was suicide (2%), road accidents (0.6%) and Aids (0.1%).

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR