Government considers easing off on traffic offenders

Road deaths are down, but many are unhappy with harsh measures. Keystone

Traffic offenders may be in luck: following challenges, the cabinet today has agreed to revisit some aspects of a controversial, but effective, road safety programme.

This content was published on June 28, 2017 - 20:44

The decision came in response to a parliamentary demand that cabinet reconsider the terms of a road safety program called Via Sicura, introduced in 2013 in a bit to tackle road accidents.

Echoing a People’s initiative known as “Stop the abuse by Via Sicura”, launched last spring, the parliamentary demand denounced what were seen by some as harsh and disproportionate sanctions against traffic offenders.

And despite the success linked to Via Sicura – 100 victims of serious accidents have been avoided, said the government, and deaths have declined 34% since 2010 – cabinet showed a willingness to re-open discussions around several of the measures.

Automatic breathalysers?

The first involves the introduction of a minimum fixed prison sentence for traffic crimes, something the government said it “could envisage” dropping. It is also considering lowering to six months the minimum period for suspending a driving licence.

Judges should also have more discretion in the case of evaluating traffic offence cases, it said, while insurance companies, who are currently obliged to pay out in civil responsibility cases of drink-driving or speeding, may revert to a more flexible position.

The government also proposed to drop two new measures planned for 2019: the installation of car breathalysers (which only allow ignition if sober) for convicted drink-drivers and the installation of a black box in the cars of drivers coming back from a speeding offence.

The discussions come a week after Switzerland was awarded top spot in the 2017 Road Safety Performance Index by a European body.

Road deaths have significantly declined in the country in recent years – Switzerland now has the lowest mortality rate in Europe, at 26 deaths per million habitants. Fatalities have dropped by 60% since 2001.

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