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Poland hopes to improve road safety

WARSAW — Poland will upgrade its roads, improve law enforcement, and take other steps as part of a new government program designed to improve the country’s miserable road safety record.

In 2011, Poland had Europe’s worst road safety statistics, with 110 deaths per 1 million citizens, or almost 4,200 people killed, Interior Minister Jacek Cichocki said Wednesday.

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Europe’s death average from traffic accidents was 60 per million people, while Britain is safest with 32. In the United States, Census Bureau figures for 2009 show 110 fatalities per million residents.

Traffic accidents cost Poland about $6.5 billion in 2012, including medical costs, pensions for families of victims, and lost workers. Transport Minister Slawomir Nowak said the figure was “shocking” and “brutal,” but illustrated well the scale of losses in the nation of 38 million.

The new government program is due to be implemented later this year. It aims to toughen the country’s driving regulations, upgrade roads, and increase the penalties for speeding to raise road safety to European Union standards.

About 43 percent of accidents in Poland are caused by speeding, according to government figures. Car crashes are the most frequent cause of deaths of people between the ages of 18 and 25 in Poland.

The government wants to cut the number of deaths in half and the number of seriously injured by 40 percent by 2020.

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