Summer is the most dangerous time to drive: 5 deaths per day and a 20% higher mortality rate
- Summer is the most difficult time of the year for driving because of heavy traffic, reckless drivers and fatigue due to long journeys. In the last decade, there have been 5 deaths per day during the summer season, a rate 20.5% higher than in non-holiday periods.
- In the last 10 years, more than 165,000 accidents were recorded during the summer holidays, killing more than 3,300 people and injuring 234,000 others.
- The most common accidents during summer travel tend to occur on conventional roads, leaving the road and very close to the destination, which can be the result of fatigue and overconfidence. This type of incident is more common in young men aged 18 to 29.
- Much room for improvement in terms of responsibility: 17 million drivers (61%) do not follow recommended rest breaks, 15 million (54%) confess to exceeding speed limits when travelling on holiday and a further 6 million (23%) confess to drinking alcohol during their summer outbound and return journeys.
- Combining the four holiday periods common to all of Spain (Easter, summer, December bank holiday and Christmas), the stretches of road with the most deaths in the last decade in this type of journeys are located in Tarragona, on the AP-7, (km 320-334), in Burgos, on the old N-1 (km 254-278) and in Girona, on the C-33 (km 6-9).
- By Autonomous Community, the regions with the highest number of critical stretches of road during the holidays are Catalonia, Andalusia, Castile and Leon and Valencia. Those with the fewest such dangerous stretches are Extremadura, Navarre and Murcia.
Madrid, 11 July 2023. The Spanish Directorate General for Traffic (DGT) warns: 95 million long-distance summer journeys are expected on Spanish roads this year, 1.75% more than last year. This type of journey is particularly critical in terms of road safety, mainly due to the effects of heat, fatigue, distractions, heavy traffic, recklessness and speeding in an attempt to arrive as soon as possible.
Aware of this, the Línea Directa Foundation wanted to analyse summer outgoing and return trips, comparing them with normal working periods and with the rest of the holiday periods shared by all of Spain (Easter, December bank holiday and Christmas). The aim is to determine whether these periods have a higher accident rate, to analyse the types of accidents during this time and to find out the habits of Spanish drivers when they make these types of journeys.
To this end, the Línea Directa Foundation has presented the study "Getting there and back. X-ray of traffic accidents on holiday journeys in Spain (2012-2021)" ["Ir y volver. Radiografía de los accidentes de tráfico en los desplazamientos vacacionales en España (2012-2021)"], prepared in collaboration with FESVIAL (Spanish Foundation for Road Safety). The study, based on official data from the Spanish Directorate General for Traffic (DGT) and more than 1,700 surveys carried out throughout the country, yields alarming conclusions; according to the statistics, summer is the most complicated time of the year for driving. Not surprisingly, in the last decade, there have been 5 casualties per day during the summer season, a rate 20.5% higher than in non-holiday periods and significantly higher than other public holidays.
In the last 10 years there have been 230,000 accidents during holiday periods, of which around 165,000 (71%) occurred during the summer. There were also 3,300 road fatalities and 234,000 injuries recorded during this time.
The summer accident
The most frequent summer accident is driving off the road, which is up 1.6 points compared to non-holiday periods. Head-on collisions, rollovers and collisions with obstacles, all of which are closely related to fatigue and distracted driving, are also on the rise.
In the summer there is a spike in accidents on conventional roads, which is where 65% of road accidents occur. In addition, there is a very telling circumstance: these accidents tend to occur close to the destination, which could be caused not only by fatigue, but also by a certain relaxation on the part of the driver as they see that they are about to arrive.
This type of accident tends to affect men more frequently, with an increased frequency in younger age groups, especially those aged 18-29.
Most critical stretches of road
The Línea Directa Foundation also wanted to determine which stretches of road have the highest number of fatalities in Spain during the four holiday periods the whole country shares. To this end, it has analysed the Spanish road network in 20-km modular sections where there have been at least three fatal accidents during the holiday periods in the last decade.
The regions with the highest number of critical stretches are Catalonia, Andalusia, Valencia and Castile and Leon, while Extremadura, Navarre and Murcia are on the opposite end of the scale. The 10 stretches of road with the most deaths in the last decade during summer travel are in Tarragona, on the AP-7, (km 320-334); in Burgos, on the old N-I (km 254-278), and in Girona, on the C-33 (km 6-9).
Spanish drivers and their behind-the-wheel behaviour in the summer
With the summertime "Operation Vacation" approaching, the Línea Directa Foundation also wanted to find out more about the habits of Spanish drivers on long-distance journeys. And there is certainly much room for improvement.
15.5 million drivers (56%) do not plan their route properly, another 15 million (54%) confess to exceeding speed limits during their holiday travel and 17 million (61%) do not follow the DGT's recommendations on stops and rests. In addition, more than half do not take turns driving with other passengers, an attitude particularly prevalent among men, and 82% do not know how to properly load the vehicle.
But perhaps the most striking aspect of Spanish drivers' habits on holiday journeys comes from alcohol, with 6 million motorists (23%) confessing to drinking beer and even mixed drinks during their summer outbound and return journeys. In addition, 25% of those surveyed admitted to eating a lot of food during these journeys, which can lead to drowsiness and lethargy.