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Veracruz bus crash highlights need to continue improving road safety

Bnamericas Published: Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A bus crash that left three dozen people dead in Veracruz state on April 13 has highlighted the need to further improve road safety in Mexico.

A passenger bus bound for Mexico City crashed into a stationary truck on the Isla-Cosoleacaque highway, bursting into flames on impact and burning to death 36 passengers inside the bus.

The truck was reportedly illegally parked along the highway, highlighting the need to improve education about road safety in the country.

"The population must respect traffic rules such as maximum speeds... in order to reduce the number of highway accidents,​" according to a release from the presidency.​

Improving road safety has been a key element of the government's highway policy since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office just over two years ago.​

The transport and communications ministry, SCT, promised to create a national highway police force and to install remote monitoring systems on all of the state's federal highways in the first press conference following the change in administration and some 14.​​6bn pesos (US$1.​11bn) has been invested in road safety works this year alone.​

The SCT plans to invest a total of 65bn pesos in the modernization and rehabilitation of highways by year-end and also aims to increase the percentage of highways in good condition from the current 85% to 90% by the end of the six-year administration,​ according to a release from the presidency.​​

Other measures to improve highway safety include the reform of trucking regulations in order to review maximum weight and dimensions of cargo vehicles using federal highways and public awareness campaigns, breathalyzing and medical examination programs for truck and bus drivers.​​​​

Starting with the Siglo XXI highway in Morelos state, the SCT also plans to install fiber optic cables on all new Mexican highways with a view to setting up intelligent transport systems and closed circuit television monitoring.​​​​

Road safety improvements have started to pay off,​ according to information from the SCT.​​​

Traffic fatalities in Mexico were at a five-year low in 2012, with 10,052 reported deaths for the year, down from a peak of 12,929 in 2008.​​​

The SCT also ramps up road safety measures during the Easter and Christmas holiday periods, stepping up drug and alcohol tests for drivers and boosting medical response services along the nation's highways.​​​

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