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Kosovo police use drones to reduce deadly car crashes

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By Reuters

By Fatos Bytyci

PRISTINA (Reuters) – Kosovo police have started using drones to catch drivers who do not respect traffic signs in an attempt to reduce the high number of casualties.

Since January the small Balkan country has introduced a new law that imposes heavy fines and police began patrolling with unmarked cars to remain unnoticed.

Two police officers launched a black and white drone just outside the capital Pristina where after few minutes they filmed a driver overtaking another car over a full white line on a bridge above the Pristina-Skopje highway.

The driver looked confused when a policeman approached with an iPad to show him the video from the drone.

A driver who commits such an offence must pay a fine of up to 300 euros, has his licence confiscated for six months and loses two out of nine driving licence points.

The average monthly gross salary in Kosovo is around 500 euros.

“This unit (with drones) is identifying people who pass the full white line in locations where it is prohibited to overtake (another car) and also identifies those who pass through red traffic lights,” said police sergeant Qerim Hetemi.

Hetemi said the newly introduced methods had helped cut the death toll on Kosovo’s roads to 82 in the January-August period this year from 85 in the same period in 2017.

The number of people injured on the roads in January-August this year stood at 8,312, down slightly from the previous year, in a country with a total population of 1.8 million.

The most deadly months are July and August, when many people living abroad, mainly in EU member states, return to Kosovo for holidays.

Careless driving, old cars and bad road signs are seen as the main reasons for high number of accidents.

(Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; Editing by Gareth Jones)