By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – A preliminary report by Brazil’s Policia Rodoviaria Federal – PRF (Federal Highway Police) shows that between Saturday, December 27, 2014 and Thursday, January 1, 2015 the country’s major highways registered a decrease of over 47 percent in serious accidents and a reduction by 26 percent of highway deaths in comparison to the same period in 2013/2014.
According to the PRF 127 people lost their lives on Brazil’s highways during the days leading up to New Year’s while 1,592 were hurt. The total number of accidents on federal highways during those six days was of 2,135. The number of automobiles traveling through federal highways during the period was estimated at close to 87 million vehicles by the PRF.
Also, the number of deaths on highways during the last week of 2014 was thirty percent lower than that registered during the 2014 Christmas holiday, the period between December 20th and 25th. According to officials 183 people died due to car accidents while traveling on federal highways during that time, while 2,224 people were injured in a total of 3,258 reported accidents.
The higher number of deaths during the Christmas period, say officials, is explained by the fact that during the holiday highway traffic is more evenly distributed throughout the country, thus less congestion with drivers reaching a higher traveling speed. During the New Year celebration period highway traffic is directed towards the coastal regions of the country, with more traffic jams and drivers unable to speed.
During the New Year celebration period, the PRF reported 822 persons were either charged or arrested for drinking under the influence (DUI). The government agency reports that more than 135,500 persons were stopped during the period on federal highways.