Safety on german roads: smartphone as a traffic risk

The number of traffic fatalities will increase slightly this year. Young people between the ages of are particularly affected.

The German ten-year average shows: Rail passengers live 58 times safer than car passengers. Picture: dpa

The number of traffic fatalities in Germany is expected to rise slightly in 2014 for the second time since the 1990s. This was announced by the Automobil-Club Verkehr (ACV) and the Allianz pro Schiene, an alliance of 21 non-profit organizations, on Wednesday at the presentation of their annual survey on everyday mobility. According to the survey, there will be an estimated 3,350 victims in Germany in 2014.

The numbers had dropped sharply over the past decades. This was mainly due to the introduction of mandatory seat belts in 1976, which reduced the number of annual traffic fatalities in Germany by almost half from 20,000.

"The fact that the number of fatalities continues to fall reliably and seemingly automatically is not a foregone conclusion," warned ACV Managing Director Horst Metzler. He called on the federal, state and local governments to ensure an infrastructure that guarantees low-risk coexistence among all road users.

The Federal Statistical Office attributes the increase primarily to the weather. However, the Pro Rail Alliance and the ACV suspect that the growing distraction caused by smartphones also plays a role; this has not been recorded statistically to date. "We call on legislators to address the increasing number of traffic accidents caused by drivers chatting, surfing or taking pictures," Metzler said. The number of young people between the ages of killed rose particularly sharply, by 30 percent. Metzler also explains this by cell phone distraction. However, young people are mainly fatally injured as pedestrians.

Cars, however, remain particularly dangerous: on a ten-year average in Germany, the risk of death of a passenger in a car was 58 times higher than that of a train passenger. Bus passengers are 15 times safer than car drivers. However, Metzler does not think much of speed limits: "The statistics show that a speed limit of 130 km/h on highways is of no use."