Thursday, May 1, 2014

Road deaths in Spain

Your chances of staying alive on Spanish roads are improving. In 1960 there were about a million vehicles in Spain and thirteen hundred people died in traffic accidents.

Last year, 2013, with thirty one million vehicles and over three hundred and fifty million long distances journeys undertaken the number of dead stood at 1,128. For the first time since records began the number of individual accidents fell below a thousand. It's the tenth straight year in which the number of road deaths has dropped. The worst year on record was 1990 when 5,940 people died.

The Valencia region followed the national trend with twenty two people fewer killed in motor accidents than the year before though Murcia had two more dead than in 2012. There were only three other Spanish communities in which more people were killed in 2013 than 2012.

The probability of you being badly hurt has also decreased. In 2003 when nearly 4,000 people died on the Spanish roads just short of 19,500 people were badly injured. In 2013 that number was down to 5,206.

During 2013 there were twenty nine days when nobody died on the roads at all. There were nineteen death free days the year before and just four in 2010. Statistically there were reductions in the number of deaths amongst people travelling in cars, vans and on bikes or mopeds but more motorcyclists and pedestrians were killed. It was a bad year for bus travellers too although the ten fold increase – from one to ten – was caused by a single accident in Avila.

More men than women died. There were fewer deaths in every age group, including the over 75s, with the exception of 65-74 year olds. Although the number of deaths amongst 35-45 year olds also fell, to 199, this is the age range where there were most deaths. As a comparison 114 drivers and passengers between the ages of 15 and 24 died.

If you can't change your sex or age group to try to avoid being injured you can at least wear your seat belt or put on a helmet if you're travelling on two wheels. One hundred and sixty one of the people who died in 2013 didn't. It's reckoned that half of them would have survived if they had. Of that number six were children who were not strapped in.

Motorways are much safer than conventional roads. Nearly 900 died on normal two lane highways. On the motorways around 230 people died; just short of 180 on ordinary motorways and a little over 50 on the toll roads.

Most accidents were caused by leaving the road followed by head on impacts. A very strange statistic is that forty one pedestrians were killed on motorways. I can only guess that they were there with broken down vehicles and didn't take sufficient notice of the danger of passing traffic.

To be fair it's a familiar trend throughout much of Europe with safer cars, better roads and better legislation. Although there are more road traffic deaths in the UK than in Spain it's the other way around as a percentage of the population. On the other hand Spain does much better than countries such as France, Germany and Belgium and it certainly isn't the motorist killing field it once was.

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