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Cyclist fatalities increase by more than 20%
While the number of fatal car accidents involving motorists in Belgium have decreased this year, fatalities involving cyclists are up. The figures come from the third-quarter road safety barometer published by the Vias Institute.
The number of deadly traffic accidents involving motorists in the first nine months of 2018 have decreased overall by 4.6% on the same period last year. There were 333 deaths of drivers and passengers, 16 fewer than last year, and an all-time low for Belgium for the period. Personal injuries were also down slightly.
The figures show a major improvement over 10 years ago when the number of deaths of motorists numbered nearly 650 in the first nine months of the year. Federal mobility minister Francois Bellot was pleased with the trend, but pointed out that a 4.6% decrease was not enough to ensure his department’s goal of less than 420 fatalities by 2020.
“We recently saw the first convictions of drunk drivers that resulted in an alcohol lock,” said Bellot, “and more will follow. This will help us in our fight against alcohol behind the wheel. Other measures taken against repeat offenders should also begin to bear fruit.”
Cycle and motorcycle deaths up
For cyclists in Belgium, the news is less good: Accident-related deaths increased by 21%. While in the first nine months of 2017, the number of cyclist fatalities was 33, this year it was 40. According to the barometer, there was a similar trend for motorcyclists, from 51 to 57 deaths, for an increase of 11%.
“Flanders saw most of the increase in the number of fatalities of cyclists,” said Vias in a statement. “For motorcyclists, we see the biggest increase in Wallonia. The weather, with many sunny days and little rain definitely played a role in these trends.”
In related news, anyone using a super-fast electric bicycle in Belgium must now have a number plate. The new law came into force yesterday. It applies to S-Pedelecs, which have motors greater than 250w and can therefore reach speeds of up to 45 kilometres an hour.
Riders of S-Pedelecs, which are classified as mopeds, must also be 16 or older, wear a helmet and possess a driving licence for a moped or car. Anyone caught breaking the law can be fined €116.