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8 May 2006 | Printer friendly

Spain: VOICE Fact Sheet on vulnerable road users

In May 2006, VOICE published a fact sheet on vulnerable road users in Spain. The aim of the paper is to remind the need for better infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists.

The road safety in this Mediterranean country is amongst the worst in Europe and traffic accidents are one of the main causes of death. In urban areas, most fatalities involve pedestrians. Within this group, children and older persons are the most vulnerable.

There are, of course, a number of factors that contribute to the high mortality rate on Spanish roads amongst which are inadequate infrastructure; behavioural factors such as speeding; violations of traffic rules by both drivers and pedestrians; and inefficient control by the responsible authorities.

Added to this, sustainable mobility coupled with better road safety is an issue that only recently has started to be taken into account by national and local authorities. According to a survey conducted by MOVILIA in 2001, 23% of the population made use of public transport, whereas 35% still used a private car as a means of transport in municipalities with less than 500.000 inhabitants, the percentage of people driving a private car was as high as 55%, where incentives to by a vehicle are higher because there are less provision for public transport services.

Measures targeting both vulnerable road users and drivers are necessary in order to improve behaviour and increase safety in the streets. Addressing common traffic violations by drivers such as drink driving and speeding has proven effective in a number of countries. A driving licence penalty point system in order to penalise drivers who speed coupled with increased enforcement has reduced road fatalities in France by 17% between 2002 and 2003. In the UK, drivers are penalised not just for speeding but also for drink driving. In Spain, it was introduced in 2006 so authorities need to make sure that it is properly enforced.

At a national level the government must ensure the frameworks they establish for more local action support and stimulate the spread of initiatives that have been successful. In Spain the areas that specially need to be strengthened are infrastructure and sustainability mobility, and behaviour of both drivers and pedestrians through effective education and enforcement of traffic rules.

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