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An acceptable number of deaths ?

By Mr Grumpy - Sun 16th Sep 2012

Following the end of this year's holiday season Spain's Dirección General de Tráfico - or DGT for short - got busy congratulating themselves that there had been "just" 262 fatalities on the country's roads in the months of July and August.

There were none of the obligatory "262 deaths is 262 too many..." carefully rehearsed sound bites I half-expected, and instead the Departmental Head, María Seguí, celebrated the fact that the number was 62 down on the same period in 2011.

How pleased the families of those 262 must be with that delightful statistic.

“This is a particularly welcome day,” she quoted to the press “It gives us reason for a lot of hope for the rest of the year. She also thanked the public as the “stars behind these results” in paying greater heed to safety.

However it was barely 72 hours earlier that the Spanish Association of Products for Children (ASEPRI) released a report which found that in 54% of all fatal road accidents involving passengers who were children occurred when the victims were not wearing the correct seatbelt.

The report used the DGT's own statistics, and also went on to demonstrate how, out of the 46% who did wear a seat belt, did so incorrectly.

At the start of the summer season the DGT ran their customary campaign, urging road users to drive safely etc... etc... where they warned that an estimated 40 million road traffic journeys were predicted to take place during July and August.

I was therefore - possibly quite understandably - a little confused when I read the solution that the Minister of the Interior, Jorge Fernandez Diaz, proposed.

Fernandez Diaz told Cinco Dias how he plans to decrease the maximum permitted speed on the country's N-Roads only by 10 whole Kilometres per hour.

What was perhaps slightly more disturbing was how he felt the need to redress some kind of balance here and suggest increasing the speed limit on motorways by a similar amount.

Although statistics can quite easily be twisted to suit any argument, bear with me on this one :

* 262 Deaths in 2 months = A very rough approximation of 1572 Deaths in 12 Months (the Busy Summer cancels out the Busy Xmas / New Year)

* 1572 Deaths out of a Population of 46 Million = a 1 : 29'262 a chance of dying on Spain's roads.

Perhaps the next time the DGT smugly role out some statistics and slap themselves on the back in congratulation over "an acceptable number of deaths", maybe they would like to give some further thought to how (or if) they actually intend to do anything about it ?

Comment on this Blog

As usual government gets the blame for road deaths. In the unlikely event that the mentality of the cretins causing the crashes can be changed the sad scenario will continue.
Robert Segal - Thu, 23rd Nov 2017
So about the same chance as that of dying on UK roads then. Ultimately, driving is a dangerous activity. All one can do is ensure that all sensible precautions have been taken.
John - Wed, 19th Dec 2012
Any society which allows it's local Policemen to ignore 14 year old 'children' riding their mopeds at high speeds, pretending to wear their crash helmets by perching them ontop of their heads needs a good kick up the arse !
Robster - Thu, 27th Sep 2012
Very graphic explanation of statistics....thanks.
Christopher Gamble - Mon, 17th Sep 2012
Cheers Mo ! I particularly found the approach to saftey for children in cars a disturbing statistic and one that was difficult to swallow. I was also looking for some quirky comparable stats but couldn't come up with anything poigniant enough to demonstrate the absurdity of the situation.
Mr Grumpy - Mon, 17th Sep 2012
Chapó, Mr. Grumpy. One of your best articles yet.
Mo - Sun, 16th Sep 2012

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