Road deaths in January reach three-year high

Spain's roads are getting more dangerous, new data shows, with the number of road deaths in January up 42 per cent on last year.

A reported 88 fatalities occurred on Spanish roads in the first month of this year according to statistics released by Spain´s national traffic agency (DGT).

Experts fear that the figure marks the start of a downward trend in road safety.

"It shows the number of road tragedies are growing at a dizzying and dangerous proportions," warned Ana Novella, the president of traffic watchdog Stop Accidents, in a statement released on Monday.

Spain´s Ministry of Transport attributed a rise in the number of road accidents to the fact that the nation´s economy was picking up.

It said that traffic circulation across Spain had increased by three percent over the last year but that an outdated transport fleet likely brought safety concerns.

The leap in fatalities was also blamed on the fact that weather conditions this January were worse than the year before.

Industry experts warned that a general relaxation of road vigilance by authorities was also to blame.

"We had a great decade between 2000 and 2010 where many very important road safety measures were adopted with great results," Eugenia Domenech, the president of the Association of Road Traffic Prevention, told El País.

"But that has been followed by a period of sheer inertia in the last two to three years," she added. "The figures show that if we are caught off guard then people relax and accidents happen."

The transport ministry announced last week that it plans to force heavy transport lorries off busy highways and force them to use toll roads instead.

It will set aside a budget of €10 million ($11.4 million) in the coming budget to subsidize the plan, giving lorry drivers a 50 percent discount on toll roads.