Poor road conditions contribute to Spain's high accident rate. / sur

Spanish roads average some type of significant defect every ten kilometres, claims a recent study

The 'road safety traffic light' is stuck on red in Spain, due to the state of the surface and crash barriers, driver and pedestrian behaviour and vehicles in poor condition according to the report

PATXI FERNÁNDEZ Madrid

Spain has a very high level of risk when it comes to traffic accidents, with factors such as the state of the road, human behaviour and the condition of vehicles named as three key factors.

That is one of the conclusions of a study called “The traffic light of mobility” from road safety specialist company Rivekids. CEO José Lagunar said, “For Spain, the traffic light is red, which means extreme risk. The risk level for accidents is very high and we can see no sign that this situation is going to change”.

The report attributes the problem to the state of the roads, the behaviour of drivers and pedestrians, a lack of policing and the general condition of the vehicles.

Bad state of roads

For a start, many of the roads are in a bad state. The study shows that 10% are highly deficient, with their surface in the worst condition for the past 20 years. There is also a problem with traffic signs: “more than 374,000 need replacing and we have seen that 72% are no longer reflective,” says Lagunar. The study also shows that many crash barriers are ineffective because of their poor condition.

Not enough police

With regard to traffic police, it concludes that there are not enough Guardia Civil officers on the roads and they have “fewer resources and less training than ever”. In 2008 there were over 10,000 traffic office, but by 2017 the number had dropped to 8,672 and now it is even lower.

The secretary of the Spanish Guardia Civil Association (AEGC), Fernando García Poves, says this situation is something they have been warning about for some time. He also agrees that the human factor is an important part of the accident rate, when drivers do not know or fail to comply with the rules of the road.

Pedestrians share blame

José Lagunar says pedestrians can also share some of the blame. Not paying attention, reckless behaviour, deliberately ignoring the rules and excesses all contribute to the danger, and 49% of pedestrians killed in traffic accidents were not complying with the law.

The study also shows that road safety campaigns are having no impact on users and are not effective at reducing accidents and deaths

Finally, in terms of the “vehicle factor”, the study shows that 39.6% of vehicles are more than 15 years old. This contributes to accidents, because at 70 kilometres an hour, braking in an old car with worn tyres can take 53% longer than a newer car whose tyres are in good condition.

In terms of the condition of vehicles on Spanish roads, the traffic light is definitely set on red, because “people don’t maintain their cars properly, and there are often faults with the tyres, brakes and suspension,” says José Lagunar.