Start of Spanish holiday season

Spain’s Department of transport forecasts more traffic than 2009

The Department of Transport has predicted that between July and the end of August there will be 86.2 million car journeys in Spain – an increase of 0.4% compared to last summer. It forecasts that there will be 41.9 million car journeys in July and 44.3 million in August. This year so far traffic on Spanish roads has increased by 0.2%.

According to the Spanish Home Office minister, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, the first phase of the ‘operación salida’ will begin between this Friday at 15.00 hours and Sunday. It is predicted that during this period there will be up to 4.1 car journeys. In order to try and minimize the risk of accidents the department of traffic is planning to put into action more vigilance on the roads and more electronic signs advising caution while driving.

There will be 10,000 traffic police on the roads which is 700 more than for the same period last year. Since 2008 the number of traffic police on the roads in Spain has gone up by 1,100.

According to Rubalcaba the 15th August, which is a national bank Holiday throughout Spain, is the worst day for accidents and deaths on the roads during the summer months. However, he hopes that this year there will be fewer accidents due to the fact that the 15th August falls on a Sunday because fewer people will be going away for a long weekend.

The Department of Transport believes that there are more accidents on 15th August than any other day in the year because there are many fiestas in villages and towns throughout Spain on this day and people make more car journeys over a short distance at the same time as consuming alcohol more than usual. Rubalcaba has asked people to be particularly careful on this day because in his view ‘the mix of short car journeys, fiestas and alcohol is very worrying’.

Another danger is the A-3 this year because there are going to be a lot of road works carried out on this motorway between July and August. Rubalcaba also highlighted the celebration of Xacobeo as a potential danger because it is also a day when people make more car journeys than usual.

Between July and August 2009 380 people were killed in car accidents on Spanish roads which is 67 less than 2008. Rubalcaba said that last years figures were very positive and said that the objective this year was to ‘consolidate and maintain this figure’. In fact there have not been any figures as positive as this one since 1963 when there were just 1.7 million cars on the roads compared to the 31 million in 2009. To highlight how things have improved Rubalcaba cited the figures for 1989 which was a particularly bad year when 1,378 people were killed in accidents on Spanish roads during the summer months.

The worst period for producing accidents is between 14.00 and 20.00 hours. Rubalcaba said that the most frequent accidents are cars going off the road (45%) and almost always on secondary roads. In addition he reminded people that 24% of people killed in car accidents last summer were not wearing a seat belt. He also said that between 0.5 and 0.8 grams of alcohol per litre of blood increased the risk of having an accident by five times.

In fact the most frequent causes of accidents between July and August are people not wearing their seat belts, cars going off the road and speed.

Rubalcaba also warned drivers that this year traffic police would be especially vigilant for new laws against throwing cigarette butts out of car windows and manipulating electronic navigators whilst driving.