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Summer deaths on Spanish roads rise for first time since 2006

Source: El Pais - Sat 5th Sep 2015
Summer deaths on Spanish roads rise for first time since 2006

The total death toll from road accidents this summer came in at 225 people, five more than last year, according to figures released by Spain' DGT traffic authority.

The number bucks a downward trend that began in 2006, when 542 people lost their lives on the road.

Overall, however, road deaths have dropped drastically in Spain since the 1980s. In 1989, 1,378 people died in crashes even though there were significantly fewer vehicles on the roads at the time.

The construction of highways in recent decades has contributed to this fall. Most of the deaths continue to occur on secondary roads, with one lane per traffic direction.

Asked about the reason for the slight rise in fatalities this summer, DGT director general María Seguí Gómez noted that there was also a rise in the number of road journeys.

There were 81 million long-distance trips made in July and August of this year, a 3.4% rise from the same period in 2014.

Around 27% of deaths occurred on road stretches that the DGT had already identified as being particularly dangerous.

Ageing vehicles may have played a role as well, said Seguí. In 2014, motor vehicles involved in fatal crashes were 10.2 years old on average, while this year the average was 11.7 years.

Seguí also underscored that "unbelievable as it may sound" in this day and age, 30 of the victims who died in cars or vans were not wearing a seat belt. And in the case of motorcycles and scooters, four of them were not wearing a safety helmet. Two cyclists out of the five who died this summer were also traveling without any head protection.

Driving under the influence was another cause of traffic deaths, said the DGT chief. During a seven-day campaign in August, 478 drivers tested positive for drugs, representing 34.8 percent of all tests.

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