The focus of traffic monitoring in Spain will change in 2015 after the slowdown in reducing the number of deaths from accidents during 2014. The DGT announced a new plan for the control of automobiles. The DGT will now focus their efforts on secondary roads, on which 8 out of 10 road deaths, almost 900 victims, occurred last year. However, what happens within cities? In 2013, the latest year with available figures, 450 people died on the roads that are controlled by local councils, one in four of all road deaths that were recorded in cities.
Victims’ associations have for years been demanding greater involvement of local authorities. They are seeking more road safety education and an increase in police surveillance. According to data collected by the DGT, the number of deaths on urban roads has been stable in recent years: 457 in 2011, 461 in 2012 and 450 in 2013. But the number of injuries and deaths in cities has not stopped growing since 2010, from a figure of 46,151, up to 52,222 in 2013. The associations insist that more should be done in the cities against practices that put safety at risk. The councils recorded over 400,000 penalties in 2013 involving the loss of 1.3 million licence points. Speeding was the main reason accounting for more than one third of the total. Another 30%, involved skipping a traffic light. The presence of alcohol in drivers resulted in over 25,000 sanctions.
Although each municipality is different, the Spanish cities records are consistent with others of a similar size. The bigger the city, the more sanctions are applied involving loss of points. Thus, in cities of more than one million inhabitants, municipalities withdrew 110.5 points per 1,000 drivers in 2013. This figure is progressively reduced in smaller cities, for example, 84 points in the municipalities of between one million and 500,000 people; 79.5 in the 100,000 to 500,000 bracket; 64 in the 50,000 to 100,000 range; and 28 in the 20,000 to 50,000.
As the years pass, the sanction of penalty points loses its effect as a road safety measure. “Each area should also implement a plan to locate hotspots in their town and take steps to reduce them,” insists Anna Novella, president of Stop Accidents. Also, there is a role to play in increasing police presence and citizenship education, for example, regarding the consumption of alcohol, which also shows differences depending on the size of the localities. On average, drink driving, leads to 9.8 santions per 10,000 drivers but that figure soars in cities of over one million inhabitants to 17.2 sanctions and it remains above average in cities with over 20,000 residents.
“There is a new factor that directly affects the data of road safety, the greater use of bicycles as a means of transportation and also runners in some cities,” says Novella. Therefore, the DGT has just signed an agreement with the network of City Walkers, made up of twenty local administrations, such as Vitoria, Ciudad Real and Melilla to promote areas with a maximum speed of 30 kilometers per hour. The goal is to reduce the number of people run over which accounted for half the road deaths in urban areas in 2013.’’