A total of 248 people died in Spanish road accidents during the first quarter of the year – the highest number of traffic victims within that period since 2002, according to Spain’s DGT national highway agency.
The death toll is also up 28 victims from the same quarter last year.
DGT general director María Seguí has attributed the high number of fatalities to “improvements in the economy” and falls in gasoline prices, which encourage more people to take journeys in their own vehicles.
When there was an economic boom in the mid-2000s we were able to reduce the number of accidents” Former Socialist Interior Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba
“That brings with it an increase in the risk of accidents,” she said.
But her arguments have met with harsh criticism from opposition politicians.
Former Socialist Interior Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, who was responsible for the DGT between 2006 and 2011, said that during his tenure traffic fatalities were reduced to 1,484 from 2,989.
“The reasons given by the person in charge of the DGT for those bad figures are just as odd as they are false. It’s a lie because when there was an economic boom in the mid-2000s we were able to reduce the number of accidents. But now if there is an increase it is because someone – and this work that has to be undertaken by all of us – has let down their guard,” said Rubalcaba.
Advocacy groups, such as the State Association for Traffic Victims (DIA), are concerned about the growing trends in road death figures and said there is “no reason to relax.” They have called for more incentives and preventive measures.
Last year, the decline in road deaths began to bottom out. During just a six-month period in 2014, there were more traffic fatalities reported than throughout the previous year.
The State Association for Traffic Victims (DIA) has called for more incentives and preventive measures
In January, the death toll increased by 44 percent with 88 persons losing their lives on Spanish roads compared to 67 in the same month in 2014.
This trend continued in February with 78 deaths reported compared to the 69 from the same month last year. March showed a slight improvement in the inter-annual figures with 82 fatalities, below the 90 reported in 2014.
In February, the DGT announced a new strategy to curtail speeding: it will inform drivers where speed cameras and radars are located and install mobile radars on secondary roads.