More than 80 measures to improve the roads, vehicle safety, medical care for accident victims and road safety education
Reducing the number of victims of road traffic accidents down to zero and joining forces to reverse the rising number of road accidents since 2014. This is the goal of an ambitious plan comprising more than 80 measures which has been published today by Fundación MAPFRE, the Asociación por la Prevención de Accidentes de Tráfico (Association for the Prevention of Traffic Accidents (AESLEME) and the Asociación Española de la Carretera (Spanish Highway Association (AESLEM)).
These entities are urging political parties of every stripe to sign up to a Government Pact on Road Safety which places an emphasis on reaching Goal Zero victims. They are also asking them to make road safety part of the political debate and to include specific actions in their campaign platforms in order to curb the number of road accidents. In Spain, 1830 people died in 2017 in road accidents, which are almost 5 victims a day, and 9000 people were seriously injured.
Increasing the budget allocated to road maintenance in the General Budget in order to make up the shortfall, improving road surfaces and investing in life-saving equipment, such as safety barriers and 2+1 roads. Improving signage and lighting, especially on main roads (carreteras convencionales), where approximately 40% of all vehicles travel and where each year 75% of fatal accidents occur. This is one of the measures designed to improve infrastructure, an area where the report also proposes creating the necessary legislative framework to urgently correct the dangerous sections of road where most accidents take place, as well as rolling out a “forgiving roads” program, which will contribute to reducing road accident rates due to coming off the road, which is responsible for the deaths of 4 in every 10 drivers.
VEHICLES, PIVE PLAN AND ALCOLOCKS
Promoting vehicle safety is another goal pursued by the plan, which calls on automobile manufacturers to reduce their time frames for incorporating the latest technological advances as standard, even in their most economical vehicles. The plan also recommends that the Government work on a new PIVE plan (Efficient Vehicles Incentive Program) in order to help facilitate the renewal of a safer and more eco-friendly fleet of vehicles, and that they promote installing smart speed limiters, as well as other driver assistance systems (ADAS) and alcolocks in vehicles. The alcolocks system would be installed in the vehicles of professional drivers and the vehicles of people with problems with alcohol addiction.
SUSTAINABLE CITIES AND CYCLISTS
The paper also focuses on reinforcing the safety of cities, where 509 people died in 2018 and 4,780 were hospitalized with their injuries. In this regard, the plan puts forward measures for guaranteeing the safety of the most vulnerable users (pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists), on an urgent basis, by means of creating more roads specifically for cycling and promoting the use of helmets within cities.
The document also suggests that signage should be improved and that the safest and least contaminating vehicles should be able to travel in certain specific areas. It also discusses developing a specific program for scooter users and other personal urban mobility systems that restricts their use to quieter streets where the maximum speed limit is 30 km/h and which guarantees getting them off the sidewalks.
The plan also outlines the need to increase the number of 30 km/h zones, which, according to the said entities, help to slow down the traffic and protect children, elderly people and cyclists, among others. The plan also highlights the importance of promoting awareness campaigns to reduce the number of pedestrians who die after drinking alcohol or taking drugs.
SPINAL CORD INJURIES AND OLDER DRIVERS
Reducing the response time, known as the “golden time”, in the case of a serious accident and creating a protocol that enables the injured person to be transported to the hospital most appropriate for their injuries as soon as possible are key factors in saving lives. This is reflected in one of the measures in the report, which supports the idea of having psychologists who specialize in dealing with road accident victims form part of the hospital emergency services at the point of hospital admission. The plan also discusses increasing the number of public health units for serious injuries (head trauma and spinal cord injuries) in order for them to be treated at an early stage by a specialized multidisciplinary team.
There is also a proposal to rethink aptitude test protocols for the over-70s, as well as to carry out a more thorough study of people’s limitations (sight, hearing, medication, sleepiness and psychiatric problems, among others) in order to more accurately establish the possible restrictions on the driving licenses of these drivers.
Swifter justice, promoting speedier trials and a strict application of the law to avoid handing down contradictory decisions. This is another one of the points included in the document, which addresses the need to speed up court proceedings and for the Courts of Justice to improve victim care. It proposes that the Public Prosecutor intervenes in all criminal proceedings for road accidents with fatalities or seriously injured persons. In this regard, the plan also defends the importance of increasing the training of prosecutors and judges on the compensation scale for victims (in force since 1 January 2016); that the statements are drawn up with more detailed information on the situation of the victims, such as, for example, if the reason for their travel that day was work-related; and that the Criminal Code categorizes mobile phone use on school and passenger transportation as dangerous driving.
MORE TRAINING AND EDUCATION
These are the best tools to prevent and reduce road accident rates, according to Fundación MAPFRE, AESLEME and AEC, who support measures such as including a minimum of 10 compulsory in-class theory lessons on road safety in order to improve the training of new drivers; they encourage the use of driving simulators in addition to the theoretical and practical training to obtain a driving license; and support running courses on safe driving for people with little experience or with more than 20 years of driving experience.
The full document is available at: