Having conducted an audit in the field of road traffic safety, the State Audit Office has provided recommendations to the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of the Interior in order to reach a more rapid decline in the number of road accidents resulting in fatalities and severe injuries. The institutions involved must collect precise information on accidents, whereas the analysis thereof must focus on the development of road traffic safety, the process for liquidation of ‘black spots’ must be arranged, adequate control of road users must be ensured, and influence of informative campaigns on the change of the behavioural patterns of the society must be assessed.
“Only if knowing the venue, time and cause of road traffic accidents it is possible to improve the road traffic safety. We are still in a very sad situation, compared to other European countries: we have the third highest rate of road accident fatalities, whereas the number of severely injured persons is rising. For instance, severe injuries were recorded for 525 people in 2016, and the death toll reached 158. Each of such cases is both a human tragedy and a loss to national economy. For this reason, in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of the Interior, in the course of the audit we paid attention to ways of resolving drawbacks in road traffic safety to ensure achievement of the best possible result in the future and to avoid road traffic deaths and avoid injuries caused by road accidents,” State Auditor Elita Krūmiņa explains the purpose of the audit.
In order to plan measures aimed at preventing road traffic accidents, it is necessary to identify the causes thereof. Currently the data contained in the Road Police Register on road traffic accidents are incomplete, frequently lacking information on the circumstances of the accident and a precise accident site. Furthermore, information on breaches discovered in police raids is no analysed extensively enough. According to the opinion of the auditors of the State Audit Office, elimination of drawbacks in data collection and analysis thereof will assist in the selection of the best methods for reducing the number of road traffic accidents. With regard to the aforementioned, the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of the Interior must collaborate to obtain complete information on the venue, time and cause of accidents.
Traffic intensity, instead of hazard prevention, has been the main criterion in planning road renovation and reconstruction works. Therefore, severe traffic accidents frequently happen at one and the same place — particularly dangerous road sections or ‘dark spots’. It is necessary to set up a control system on the roads of the State of Latvia within a year, and it is also necessary to eliminate the ‘dark spots’. Probably, it is also necessary to reconsider the disposition of road signs to ensure effective warning of road users.
Road users are responsible for their own safety, but it is also important to educate the society and to control adherence to rules. The Road Traffic Safety Directorate must assess the outcome of campaigns, i.e., impact thereof on the change of the behavioural patterns of the society. Meanwhile due to work organisation of the State Police, control on roads is arranged according to ‘the principle of surplus’ and the system for assessment of results differs. The State Police must improve work organisation of regional structural units and the reporting system in order to assess whether police raids have been organised in the most essential areas and the presence of the police is adequate.
The performance audit entitled “Are the Measures Taken by Responsible Institutions in the Field of Road Traffic Safety Adequate and Effective?” was conducted for the period from 01.01.2010 until 31.12.2016. at the Ministry of Transport, Road Traffic Safety Directorate, VAS “Latvijas Valsts ceļi” (State Joint Stock Company “Latvian State Roads”), and also the Ministry of the Interior and the State Police. Planning documents in the field of road traffic safety, data on road traffic accidents available in the Road Police Register regarding 120 thousand protocols, the profile of accident deaths, procedures for elimination of ‘dark sports’ and other information were analysed within the scope of the audit.