‘Every little helps’ say road accident groups

SUPPORT groups for road accident victims received €450,000 from Spain’s highways agency Direccion General de Tráfico (DGT) last year.

A 2009 law obliges the DGT to plough back income from fines into road safety, accident prevention and financial assistance for accident victims.

The €457.8 million earned in fines last year was €26 million more than expected at the beginning of 2010 but  groups received just 0.09 per cent of the DGT’s takings in fines.  The DGT also earned a further €523 million in fees and taxes.

Last year’s allocation was split between six associations who, although grateful for the donations, lamented that this relatively small sum prevented them from helping more people.

In the past, victims’ groups received nothing at all but were given €180,000 in 2007 and €360,000 in 2008, rising to €450,000 since 2009 to date.

“The 2009 law does not specify what percentage of the fines should go to victims, but we feel it could be a little more,” said Francisco Canes, president of the DIA victims’ support group.

Of the DGT’s total budget, €822 million went on road safety last year.  This breaks down into €430 million on responsible driving campaigns, €86 million for improving traffic flow and €235 million on making the fines system faster and more effective.

It was logical for this streamlining to come under the heading of road safety, maintained Eugenia Domenech of the PAT group but she, too, felt that the DGT contribution could be a little more generous. “If we had more money, we could help more people,” she said.

The DGT donation might be small “but it is more than we receive from anyone else” according to Ana Galan of STOP Accidents group.

The ministries of Public Works and Education should both be doing more to more help the groups, she claimed.

By Annie Maples

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