Road accident prevention

Dear Editor,

Living in the Algarve for the last five years with extensive driving in the country as well as much driving throughout Europe, below are my thoughts on how to improve the accident and injury rate.

The points are very basic, and well known to all, but I have not seen them applied.

Weekly we see news about EN125, same sad story again and again. Front-to-front collision, bikers’ accidents, pedestrians hit by cars, animals hit by cars, and on and on we go.

It comes back to drivers’ attitude, authorities’ lack of action, perhaps drivers’ mentality of not considering others on the road, and not respecting the road signs.

I think it takes a major drive to change this, but the tools are there. Someone just has to take charge.

For me, the safest road in the Algarve is the A22, and I am happily paying for this – it is worth every penny. I see it as an investment in my health.

Average speed cameras: Average speed cameras and fixed cameras need to be installed on all places where accidents occur. This is much used in Germany, Holland, Belgium, France and many other European countries with great results. This is the most efficient way to reduce speed, hence front to front collisions will be reduced as well.

Fixed speed cameras: Fixed speed cameras to be installed to a much greater extent than today. After five years of driving in Portugal, I have hardly seen a speed camera.

Red light cameras: Should be installed on all major crossroads in cities and other places where red lights are ignored.

Road work speed limits: This is not respected in Portugal. Should do as already has been established in other countries: install speed cameras and the speed will be respected and the safety for the maintenance workers is better.

Stop signs: Stop sings are not respected in Portugal. A stop sign means that the car is to come to a full stop, not even rolling slightly. When I stop fully at a stop sign, I am always checking in the mirror to see how close the car behind me is. The Portuguese habit of driving too close to your trunk is well known, and dangerous.

Living and driving in USA for 25 years, I know it is strictly dealt with. You will get a fine, you will have to join a traffic school lesson for four hours; if repeated then eight hours with bigger fine for second offence. If you do not attend traffic school, your insurance premium is immediately affected by these fines. And the car has to come to a full stop!

More local speed controls: More local speed radar controls need to take place on narrow roads and roads where accidents occur, close to children and schools. My experience is that speed limits are not respected much in Portugal.
Road markings: Present rules for road markings should be reviewed with the goal to effectively reduce front to front collisions. Far too often do I see cars doing a reckless passing, but following the dotted line they actually are allowed to pass. In many places, it should not be allowed to pass at all, however in Portugal it is. This is too relaxed, and needs a total stricter review with accident reduction in mind.

Roundabouts: Too many do not know the rules of driving in a roundabout. I am seeing daily many tourists not knowing at all how to drive in a roundabout, as well as Portuguese. Much more awareness and better signage must be given before a roundabout to indicate the lane to take for specific exits.

Prevention saves lives and money. All the above points are to prevent accidents and injuries. Especially now in Portugal with the points on the drivers’ licence, the above will be valuable and effective tools.
Knut Aune
Praia da Luz