The number of deaths on Swiss roads is continuing to fall – by 17 per cent during the first half of 2006, according to a survey.
The Swiss Council for Accident Prevention said on Tuesday that the number killed due to drivers under the influence of alcohol and to speeding, the two main causes of road accidents, had fallen by 38 and 35 per cent respectively.
According to the survey, which was carried out among cantonal police authorities, the number of people killed on Swiss roads was down from 183 in the first six months of 2005 to 153.
There was also a 15 per cent drop to 2,063 in the number of injuries resulting from road accidents.
These latest figures follow a June report by the Federal Statistics Office that announced 20 per cent fewer deaths in road accidents in 2005 compared with the previous year.
The road accident prevention organisation suspects that the lowering of permitted blood-alcohol levels for drivers to 0.5 milligrams per millilitre, which came into effect at the beginning of 2005, effective police controls and better public awareness are the likely factors.
The long-term positive trend is also down to safer roads and cars, as well as better accident emergency services, explained the organisation.
Between 2002 and 2004 there was an average of 240 fatal road accidents in Switzerland during the first half-year. In 2005 the number dropped to 184, despite a serious coach crash in the Grand St Bernard region in which 13 people died.
The survey also found that the number of cyclists killed during the first six months of the year had dropped from 21 to 16 and there had been 13 fewer fatalities behind the wheel (83 in 2005, 70 in 2006).
Whereas the past few years had resulted in far fewer fatal accidents involving pedestrians, the figures for the first six months of this year remained stable.
In March new regulations were introduced to improve safety on Swiss roads.
Among the new measures, police may now issue on-the-spot fines if drivers do not give right of way to people at pedestrian crossings. More than 900 people are injured every year on Swiss pedestrian crossings.
swissinfo with agencies
The early 1970s were the worst years for road accidents when the annual average was around 35,000.
The highest number of road fatalities was also registered during this period, with a record 1,773 deaths in 1971.
The number killed in road accidents has been declining steadily since 1995 when nearly 700 people died.
In 2005 409 people were killed (-20%) and 5,059 injured as a result of road accidents.
Traffic deaths made up 0.6 per cent of the total number of people who died in Switzerland last year.