Road safety, drunk driving discussed at upper chamber
Ljubljana, 3 June - The National Council hosted on Monday a panel debate at which the ministers of infrastructure, home affairs, justice and health discussed methods to improve road safety. Pointing to everyone's personal responsibility for safe driving, they said a change in the mindset would be needed to have no casualties on Slovenian roads.
Traffic Safety Agency acting director Vesna Marinko said the debate was meant to have experts discuss how to prevent drunk driving and exchange views.
She said measures would be drafted on the basis of best practice to improve road safety with a view to achieve vision zero - no fatalities involving road traffic.
Similarly, National Council President Alojz Kovšca said efforts should be made to come close to vision zero as soon as possible. He blamed traffic accidents on alcohol, but also on poorly maintained roads and on "a poor driving culture fostered by Slovenians".
Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek noted that traffic casualties statistics were rising after last year's encouraging figures, so the ministry was already drafting changes to the law on road traffic rules, which would be sent into consultation shortly.
Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar also pointed to this year's deteriorating statistics, stressing that indifferent people driving under the influence or violating road traffic rules "pose a risk to the entire society".
Justice Minister Andreja Katič, on the other hand, wondered whether more severe punishments for serious traffic offences should be legislated, urging different ministers to contribute to the debate to come to a solution.
She also believes that as a society, Slovenians should take a step forward in trying to prevent friends or acquaintances who are tired or under the influence from driving.
Health Minister Aleš Šabeder said a number of activities were going on at his ministry to address excessive drinking and its impact on road safety.
Executive director of the European Transport Safety Council Antonio Avenoso said as many as 70 people died on European roads daily, 25% of whom due to drunk driving.
He believe the problem should be addressed not only with new legislation to let drivers know driving and alcohol are not compatible, but also with more awareness-raising campaigns as well as fines.
Kovšca announced the upper chamber of parliament would organise similar events in the future to discuss driving culture, driving under the influence, and manner in which police officers could permanently strip offending drivers of their driving licences.