The Director General of the DGT, Gregorio Serrano, has this week presented the statistics of road traffic incidents during 2016, a year in which, on interurban roads, there were 1,038 fatal incidents in which 1,160 people died and another 5,067 needed hospital treatment as a result of the injuries suffered. These figures represent increases of 1.4% (+15) in fatal incidents; 2.6% (+29) in the number of deaths and 4.3% (+209) in the number of injuries requiring hospital treatment.
There was also an increase in traffic last year. A total of 392 million long-haul journeys took place, 18.5 million more than in the previous year, representing an increase in mobility of 5%.
Although the figures relate to the close of the year, the data is considered provisional and refer only to fatal incidents occurring on interurban roads and with victims reported up to 24 hours after the incident occurred. The final consolidated figures, which will include victims up to 30 days following the incidents, will be released at a later date.
The death toll is still below the figure registered in 1960, the first year in which statistics began being collated, when there were 1,300 deaths, with a completely different mobility scenario of one million vehicles on the roads, compared with over 32 million today. The average number of daily fatalities was 11.6 road deaths per day in 2000, and now stands at 3.2 deaths per day in 2016.
Distractions, inappropriate speed, failure to keep the correct distance and fatigue or sleep are the main contributing factors that appear in fatal or serious incidents.
The number of fatalities where the incident involved a van has reduced from 69 in 2015 to 58 last year. There were 10 fewer cyclists killed, although 33 people still lost their lives.
In 2016, 214 motorcyclists died, 10 less than in 2015, and 21 moped riders lost their lives, 6 less than the previous year. Pedestrian fatalities increased from113 in 2015, to 118 in 2016.
Tragically, 22% of drivers and passengers killed in cars and vans in 2016 were not wearing a seatbelt. Of the 214 motorcycle fatalities, 4 did not wear a helmet at the time of the incident and in the case of 21 people killed on a moped, 1 wasn´t wearing a helmet. Among the cyclists, of the 33 who died, 6 were not wearing a helmet, despite it being obligatory on interurban routes. Of the 16 children up to 12 years of age who died in cars, 3 were not using any safety device or harness at the time of the fatal incident.
Although much more can and must be done, especially by road users ourselves, Spain continues to be one of the countries with the best road safety in the world, with 36 deaths per million inhabitants, below the EU average of 52.