Police urge 'caution' on the roads despite 16% fall in fatalities
Some 86 people lost their lives in accidents between January 1 and July 15, compared to 102 in the same period last year
A total of 86 people lost their lives on Catalonia's roads between January 1 and July 15 this year, some 16% fewer compared to the same period last year, when 102 people died.
However, the number of road deaths as a result of vehicle accidents only went down by 5%, from 86 to 82, as last year there were more accidents with multiple victims.
Also, the drop in fatalities fell short of the aims laid down in 2010, with the goal for this year set at 45% fewer road deaths, while the actual number was only 28.3%.
With the publication of the figures, the authorities are asking drivers to take special care on the roads this summer, a time of year that accounts for almost a quarter of road deaths.
Intoxication a growing trend
One aspect of the figures that has caused most concern is that half of drivers killed on the roads had taken alcohol, drugs or pharmaceuticals, a growing trend since 2010.
Some 78% of the fatal victims were drivers, and it is estimated that 1% of all drivers on the roads at any one time are driving above the allowed alcohol limit.
As for the causes of fatal accidents this year, the proportion associated with distractions rose by 10%, and those with excessive speed went up by 18%.
Another worrying aspect of the new figures is that compared with the same period last year, the number of people killed who were not wearing a seatbelt went up by 10%.
Older people are also more at risk while driving, as 31% of the deaths (27) were senior citizens, a 23% increase on the 22 fatalities in the same period in 2018.
Special care at weekends
The figures also show that most fatal accidents tend to happen at the weekends, with 55% of the deaths occurring between Friday afternoon and Sunday evening.
That is one of the reasons why the authorities are calling for "caution and responsibility" from drivers this summer, as traffic is particularly dense at the weekends in July.
The head of the Catalan transport police, Joan Carles Molinero, said there would be a significant police presence on the roads this summer, especially in tourist areas.
Molinero also said the police will now have use of a traffic helicopter with a special camera, while unmarked police cars will be in circulation to spot people driving dangerously.