By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – During the Easter week, known as Semana Santa (Holy Week), a popular traveling weekend, Brazil has registered the lowest number of accidents on its roads since 2007. Between Thursday, April 2nd, and Monday, April 6th, the Polícia Rodoviária Federal (Federal Road Police) counted 2,323 accidents on highways all over the country.
In comparison to last year, the number of severe accidents (at 163 in 2015) was reduced by 63 percent, while the total number of accidents decreased by 22 percent. With 103 fatalities, deaths on the road diminished by 31 percent in comparison to 2014 when 140 persons had lost their life.
All over the country, 1,151 persons were prevented from driving as they were found to be under the influence. Around 255 drivers were arrested for drunk driving of the 168,588 persons stopped over the five days of Easter holidays.
In total, 79,247 vehicles were caught overstepping speeding limits in the country. The largest number of speeders were found in the state of São Paulo with 12,283 cases, marking fifteen percent of the total. The state is followed in numbers by Paraná with 11,641 cases and Minas Gerais with 9,544 vehicles caught.
In Rio de Janeiro, Operação Lei Seca (literally Operation Dry Law) has also stepped up their efforts over the holidays putting all of their 250 agents to action. In total, 53 different operations in the city of Rio, the Metropolitan region and the interior of the state were conducted, among them blitz check points and educational campaigns.
Between Thursday, April 2nd and Sunday, April 5th, 5,697 drivers were stopped and 1,129 were fined. Around 300 motorists had their license suspended and 17 drivers will face criminal charges. In total, 5,054 alcohol tests were administered.
In comparison to last year, the operation was more comprehensive with more people checked, but fewer cases of drunk driving were found.
Operation Lei Seca recently marked their sixth anniversary, having been launched in March 2009. In this time until the 6th of April 1,834,512 drivers were stopped and 359,936 were fined. Accidents in the period have seen a remarkable decrease.