"It happens in Germany, why not here?"

The automobile association Touring has launched a proposal in favour of towing away car wrecks with the victims still in the vehicles. Touring says that the wrecks should be towed away as soon as possible.

The association believes that this could help address congestion and save all of us lots of time.

Touring has worked out that collectively we all spend 32 million hours in a jam each and every year. This results in economic losses worth 610 million euros. A quarter of all the time wasted in jams is said to be the result of road accidents.

Touring says that wrecks containing dead bodies or people who are only slightly injured could be towed away immediately. Spokesman Danny Smagghe: "It happens in Germany, why not here? We lose an awful lot of time: first the police arrive, then the emergency services, then in the event of a death a representative of the public prosecutor’s office and only then can the vehicle be towed away."

The automobile association argues against deviations that take drivers along secondary roads. These roads are not fit to deal with extra traffic and this only exacerbates the traffic congestion: "Keep drivers on the main roads, but make sure that they are cleared as soon as possible. This can be done by alerting break down services a lot more quickly, at the same time as the police. At the minute they are only contacted when the police have already arrived."

Idea triggers great opposition

In a first reaction Dr Luc Beaucourt, a surgeon specialised in treating the victims of road accidents, describes the proposal as pointless: “I think medical issues need to get priority over gaining time. The best thing is to get victims out of a wreck as soon as possible. Ambulances are usually a lot faster than break down trucks. I think human suffering should get absolute priority over any time gains. I am not a supporter of this proposal.”

Flemish Transport Minister Hilde Crevits (Flemish Christian democrat) too is not very enthusiastic. She points to the fact that the police need to be able to examine the scene of the accident properly so that blame can be attributed. The minister concedes that greater co-operation between the emergency services could help to deal with the aftermath of accidents as efficiently as possible.