MADRID – 2020 was an exceptional year for road safety and traffic victims. The cessation of activities to limit the spread of the coronavirus has left its mark on streets and highways. As such, the number of road fatalities fell by almost 22%.
This was the result of a 25% decrease in the number of trips between urban centres. Consequently, 385 fewer people were killed in traffic than in 2019. This is apparent from figures published by the Spanish traffic authority DGT last Thursday.
Road deaths lowest since records began
The number of road deaths from last year is the lowest since these records are kept. This had already been noted when the preliminary data was published last December.
DGT fears that accidents will increase sharply this year as a result of the end of all mobility restrictions. As regards the autonomous communities, the decline in the death rate in built-up areas and on interurban roads was particularly noted in Madrid (105 deaths, 34% less than in 2019), Catalonia (204 deaths, 33% less), and the Region of Valencia (129 deaths, 27% less).
On the other hand, the figures deteriorated from year to year in two autonomous communities: Aragón (68 deaths, 5% more, Castilla-La Mancha (96 deaths, 3% more). Tráfico emphasises that this reduction took place in a context of a clear decrease in long-haul journeys due to the imposed mobility restrictions. From March to 2019 to the same month of 2020, the number of long-haul journeys in Spain decreased by 31%, although the fleet increased slightly by 1% to 36,158,465 vehicles.
The fall in 2020 affected traffic victims, both outside built-up areas and within urban areas, although it was not the same. On urban roads, the number of deaths fell by 24% and on highways by 21%. With a total of 975 victims, less than 1,000 for the first time since records were kept. The number of deaths on motorways and highways decreased more (35%) than on conventional roads (16%).
According to DGT, distraction is the most common factor leading to fatal accidents, almost one in three. But also alcohol consumption (27%) and driving too fast (25% of the cases).
In addition, these three factors have increased slightly compared to 2019. By type of accident, this concerns running off the road (42% of the cases) and frontal collisions (20%). And while the numbers improved, especially among motorcyclists (down 34%), those of bicycle fatalities deteriorated slightly, with two more cases than in 2019.