Denmark’s low road death toll ‘a reason to celebrate’

The number of deaths from road traffic accidents in Denmark is estimated at 175 for 2015, but officials warn against getting too excited.

Denmark's low road death toll 'a reason to celebrate'
Photo: Claus Fisker/Scanpix

The Road Authority Traffic Safety Department (Vejdirektorats Trafiksikkerhedsafdeling, VT) estimated the total of 175 fatal casualties in 2015 – which would be close to a record low – just before Christmas.

“We could end up with a total fewer or six more than in 2012 [the record year with 167 deaths],” Jesper Søndergaard Henningsen of VT told Politiken.

“Whatever happens, we will be close to the record. But, for God’s sake, there must not be a bad accident with many casualties in the run-up to New Year,” Henningsen said.

Jesper Sølund, records manager with the Safe Traffic Council (Rådet for Sikker Trafik, RST) agreed with Henningsens’ assessment, saying that an “unusually quiet” Christmas had contributed to the low total.

RST’s count of road traffic deaths in 2015 stands at 155, based on police data. The data will be finalized in January.

Better safety equipment in cars, roundabouts being built to replace crossings, fewer DUI offenders, lower speeds and better use of seat belts can all be thanked for the improved safety figures, according to a report in Politiken.

Sølund told Politiken that the figures were “a cause to celebrate, but not like idiots”.

According to Sølund, the Danish Road Safety Commission’s target for 2015 was to reduce deaths from road traffic accidents to 145.

“In that perspective, we’ve not reached the target,” said Sølund.

RST has campaigned for a number of other measures to be introduced to improve road safety, such as the use ignition interlock devices as in Sweden, where drivers convicted of DUI offences, instead of losing their licences, are given car locks that they must blow into, thereby ensuring they are under the limit before driving.

The use of the breathalyzing locks has reduced DUI re-offenses in Sweden from 60 to 10 per cent, according to the Politiken report.

But Traffic Minister Kristian Pihl Lorentzen told Politiken that he was sceptical regarding the use of this method, saying that it would “reduce the deterrent effect of knowing that you will lose your licence for driving over the limit.”