Measures to reduce road accidents following first quarter increase in fatalities

by Lorraine Williamson
road accidents

The Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, unveiled a package of measures on Friday aimed at reducing the number of traffic accidents and their lethality. The Directorate General of Traffic (DGT) reported a 16% increase in road fatalities during the first quarter of 2024 compared to the same period last year.

Grande-Marlaska outlined the measures during an informative event held at the headquarters of the DGT, accompanied by the ministry’s undersecretary, Susana Crisóstomo; the Director General of Traffic, Pere Navarro; and the Chief General of the Traffic Group of the Civil Guard, Tomás García.

During the first quarter of the year, 261 people died on interurban roads, 36 more than in the same period of the previous year, representing a 16% increase. These statistics are significantly higher than the normal variation in road accidents, which usually oscillates around plus or minus 5%. The number of hospitalisations due to accidents reached 908, one more than in the same period in 2023.

“We cannot remain indifferent; it is imperative to reverse this upward trend in road mortality,” explained Grande-Marlaska. “Therefore, I requested that the Directorate General of Traffic analyse the accidents to identify what had happened during the first three months of the year,” and based on that diagnosis, develop an action plan with specific measures to be implemented immediately.

Also read: New speeding fines for 2024

Snapshot of Road Safety

Before presenting the measures, the Minister of the Interior highlighted the most significant characteristics of road accidents during this first quarter:

  • Increased lethality of accidents, with more fatalities than hospitalisations.
  • A 50% increase in fatalities on highways and expressways compared to the same period last year, while on conventional roads, the increase was 5%.
  • According to preliminary reports from the Traffic Group of the Guardia Civil, there have been more serious accidents involving alcohol and inappropriate speed.
  • A 23% increase in fatalities among car and motorcycle occupants. The highest increase in motorcycle fatalities occurred on highways and expressways. Industrial vehicles, especially trucks, also saw an increase in their involvement in fatalities.
  • All types of accidents, except for pedestrian accidents, have increased. Run-off-road accidents and collisions remain the most frequent. In the case of conventional roads, frontal collisions have not changed compared to the same period last year, but side and front-side collisions have increased.
  • The number of fatalities on weekdays increased by 29%, while the increase on weekends was only 1%. Regarding motorcycles, the highest accident rates were recorded on weekends (+43%), while on weekdays, the increase was 4%.
  • In terms of age, almost all of the increase in fatalities occurred among those aged 45 to 54 (from 40 to 61 fatalities).

This increase in road accidents must be seen in the current context, characterized by an increase in mobility and a general deterioration of road safety shared at the European level. This situation has led to significant increases in road fatalities in countries such as Ireland, where fatalities increased by 29% in the first quarter of this year, and in France, where the increase was 13%.

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New Measures

The measures announced today by the Minister of the Interior are as follows:

Increased Automated Speed Surveillance

Ninety-five new fixed speed control points will be installed on roads, 60% of which will be section speed cameras.

Net Increase in Trafico Staff

By the end of the year, 150 new agents will have been incorporated into the Guardia Civil Trafico, allowing for increased effective presence and visibility of its motorcyclists on the roads.

Alcohol and drug checks

400,000 preventive alcohol checks and 20,000 more drug checks to detect and put drivers who test positive behind the wheel off the road. On weekends between June and October, surveillance of motorists will be reinforced on those roads frequented by this group.

Enhanced Surveillance on Highways and Expressways

In regions where there has been an increase in fatalities on high-capacity roads (Andalucia and the Valencian Community), surveillance services by the Civil Guard on these roads will be increased to 50% (previously 30% compared to 70% on conventional roads). In other regions, surveillance services will be adapted.

Also read: Over 800 people a day still refuse to use a seatbelt

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