With the Iranian New Year, or Nowruz, holidays not yet started, at least 107 people have died in road accidents as traffic increases.
Announcing the figures on Saturday, the deputy head of Iran’s traffic police Teymour Hosseini said more people were taking intercity trips for Nowruz, which begins Sunday. Most of the accidents had occurred in Fars, Bushehr, Sistan-Baluchestan, and Yazd provinces, but Hosseini said traffic had increased everywhere, especially on roads to northern provinces near the Caspian.
As in many countries, restrictions on movement in place for the Covid-19 pandemic have been eased despite the continuing struggle with the Omicron variant: 782 have died in Iran in the past week, around the same as the United Kingdom but down from Iran’s peak of 4,444 in August.
Iran has a poor road safety record with annual fatalities around 20,000, although it is not in the top 50 globally according to World Health Organization reports for traffic fatalities per head of population. The fatality rate is lower than Saudi Arabia. Lebanon, Kyrgyzstan and Yemen, but higher than Iraq, Armenia, and the United Arab Emirates.
The toll is variously blamed on speed, poor quality of roads, lax inspection of vehicles, disregard for traffic laws, and inadequate emergency services. A 2017 report by Iran’s traffic police said that nearly 280,000 had been killed and more than 4 million injured in road accidents since 1998.