By Yun Suh-young
According to a recent report published by the Construction Economy Research Institute of Korea, the number of traffic accidents in Korea was 1.7 times higher than that of other OECD members.
The number of car accidents in Korea was 120 per 1 million people as of 2008, much higher than that of OECD average which stood at 71 per 1 million.
Korea ranked third out of the 34 OECD countries in terms of the frequency of car accidents.
The rate of traffic accidents among the elderly was especially high — five times the OECD average — and higher for children’s accidents which ranked number one among the OECD countries.
The institute pointed to the low number of tarmac-surfaced roads as the cause of such a high number of traffic accidents.
Seoul’s roads were found to be 100 percent tarmac-surfaced but the quota of road surface coverage in other regions was much lower. South Jeolla and Gangwon provinces had 72.5 percent and 72 percent, respectively.
Metropolitan cities had a 99.4 percent rate of tarmac-surfaced roads whereas rural cities and districts had an average of 60 percent.
“Such statistics reflect the fact that there’s low investment in traffic infrastructure,” said Park Yong-seok, a researcher from the institute.
“Due to the low road surfacing rate in the rural provinces and cities, the gap in the infrastructure between regions will increase even more.”
He pointed out there was a need to strengthen the central government’s support in the rural regions.
“To secure a stable budget for traffic infrastructure, the government will have to retain the traffic tax until 2020, not extend it every three years.”