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Spanish Road Safety

By The Equalizer - Wed 25th May 2011

It's not a nice subject to blog about, but it's one that frustrates me quite a bit.

On the run up to, during, and after Spanish Fiestas, the spanish press and the Department of transport run a campaign surrounding road safety in general on Spanish roads.

Not a bad thing at all. The problem is that it all seems to be lip service and the dire situation on Spanish roads never seems to change from one year to the next, regardless of what they claim to be doing about the situation.

In Spain, it is also a requirement to be 18 before driving a car (However, 15 for a moped). compared to the UK where you need to be 17 to drive a car and 16 for a moped.

The Spanish driving test is although considered to be fairly thorough.

So, all things being equal you would have expected that the number of accidents and fatalities on Spanish roads would be proportionate to those seen on roads in the UK.

Not so - the latest complete records released by the UK's National Office of Statistics (2009) shows that Spain has a population of 47 Million, with 32'525'000 registered road vehicle and 681,298 km of roads. This is compared to the UK where there is an population of 62 Million, with 33'640'000 registered road vehicles, and 392'160 km of roads.

You may have thought that Spain, a more stringent driving exam, combined with few vehicles driving on more kms of road would result in fewer accidents, but this is far from the case. As an overall comparison, for the same year the UK had a rate of 37 road traffic fatalities per 1 Million head of population, compared to Spain with 59 road traffic deaths per 1 Million head of population.

Indeed, at the end of 2009, Spain congratulated itself for managing to reduce the number of road fatalities recorded for the whole of the year - down to 'just' 1'859. This was the first time that the figures had fallen below 2'000 pa since records began in 1969 and represented a decline for the sixth consecutive year. Figures peaked in 1989 with over 7'000 fatalities.

As a comparison, the UK suffered 2'690 such fatalities in 1989 and 1'146 in 2009*.

Taking all of this into account you can understand how it flabbergasted me to see a headline in the local media shortly after easter, of the DGT congratulating themselves that there was 'just' 40 fatalities on Spain's roads over the easter holiday period. Hooray ! - a record apparently, although not something I personally would have been especially proud of, if I had been the Minister of Transport.

Once Spain has finished congratulating itself over it's highly (un)impressive road fatality demographic it may decide to do something about it other than empowering the Guardia Civil to hand out more fines for speeding.

*The UK Stats do not include the deaths of pedal cyclists or pedestrians involved in road accidents - I was unable to confirm exactly how the Spanish stats were collated, or if they even included these figures.

Comment on this Blog


Lisa : Yes, the Spanish equivalent of the MOT is the ITV and you should be able to check to see if the vehicle has a valid ITV by checking for a coloured sticker in the corner of the Windscreen. It should measure aboot 40mm x 25mm and have a date marked on it. You can also read about the law in Spain concerning Tyres by clicking the link >> HERE <<.

On a more serious note, it is the vehicle who is liable for responsibility of the vehicle if you are stopped by the Guardia or involved in an accident !

Tumbit - Admin - Wed, 13th Feb 2013
I have hired a car today in the Canary Islands. I checked it for dents etc but did not check the tyres, mirrors and other safety features assuming that all would be in order from a car hire company. Not so - 2 rear bald tyres, driver's wing mirror that does not work. Is there an MOT equivalent in Spain? The tyres would be 3 points on the driving licence if in UK. Funnily enough I now can't get hold of the car hire people!
Lisa Hardie - Wed, 13th Feb 2013
A Good Point there Juan ! Spain's road safety record has decreased massively, whilst the UK's has remained resonably constant (I wouldn't have wanted to have been driving on Spanish roads in 1989 though !)
The Equaliser - Sun, 2nd Oct 2011
7,000/1,859=3,76. 2,690/1,146=2,34. Therefore, it seems Spain has decreased in a 60% more than the UK the number of road fatal casualties in the period 1989-2009 according to your figures. Maybe fines are worthy, after all. If, according to your opinion, Spain's figures have not changed at all, what you can say about UK's?
Juan - Sat, 1st Oct 2011
Just seen the news that Spain had a 'record' 28 road traffic fatalities for the 16th / 17th July 2011 - a NON Bank Holiday weekend ! I couldn't find a comparable statistic for the UK, other that the DoT states that there were 1122 road fatalities in the first 6 month of the year.
Mr Grumpy - Wed, 20th Jul 2011

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