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Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Spain puts UK to shame on road deaths

This is a press release from the Association of British Drivers. Basically, it underlines what we all know but very few actually say.

Figures released by Spain's Dirección General de Tráfico show a drop of one fifth in road fatalities. 2,182 were killed in 2008, some 559 fewer than the previous year. Despite Spain having a similar number of vehicles on the road as the UK, the most recent fatality figure in the UK was 2,946, a damning inditement of failing UK road safety policy. Trends over the past fifteen years have seen Spain more than halve their annual fatality figure despite rapid traffic growth whilst the UK have only seen a reduction of around 20%.

So, how have Spain achieved this success and how can the UK road safety establishment learn from their experience?

ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries explains: "Spain, like the UK will have benefited from the dramatic improvement in car design. Without this it is likely UK casualties would have risen, road safety policy here can take little credit for our miserable achievement. Spain, unlike the UK has invested greatly in engineering, ironing out blackspots, realigning and junctions, bypassing towns and villages and replacing the most dangerous roads with dual carriageways. They have also relied on good old fashioned policing. 'Trafico' officers can often be seen watching the roads and pulling up suspicious looking vehicles or drivers. They have introduced a positive points system, as suggested by the ABD for the UK, and clamped down on drink driving. What they have not done is to flood the country with speed cameras, nor does there seem to be a great emphasis on speed enforcement. Here in the UK road safety policy has concentrated almost solely on cameras and enforcement and people are still dying."

ABD Chairman Brian Gregory commented: "The UK road safety chiefs need to learn and learn fast that their policies are failing. We need a return to good old fashioned policing and investment in engineering. How many more need to die before they wake up?"

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