More than 4.5 million motorists have admitted that they have driven on the roads of Spain and carried out a procedure that would constitute a criminal offence. That is the conclusion of a report by the Fundación Línea Directa on crimes against road safety between 2012 and 2015.
Criminal acts are the likes of driving with excessive alcohol or drugs, excessive speeding, or driving without a licence, for example, which would result in prison. The survey reveals that there is a serious lack of knowledge regarding criminal acts whilst driving and 9 million drivers are unaware that they can go to prison for this and almost 11 million do not know that, in particular, driving under the influence of drugs can lead to prison.
Beyond ignorance, these behaviours carry a much more serious problem in society, since they have a direct influence on the mortality and injury figures. In fact, it can be estimated that 14% of the total deaths in traffic incidents are due to the criminal conduct of another driver.
Crimes against traffic safety have become the most common in Spanish courts, accounting for 35% of all crimes committed in Spain. In fact, since 2008 almost 900,000 trials have been held for crimes against road safety, of which 650,000 have ended in condemnation. In this sense, the proportion of convictions has also experienced a great evolution in recent years, from 66% in 2008 to 85% in 2015.
This report analyses in depth more than 580,000 trials for road safety offences and around 450,000 convictions imposed between the years 2012 and 2015.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs accounts for more than 60% of all cases. They are followed by driving without a license (27%), causing a serious risk for driving (7%) or refusing to perform alcohol or drug tests (3.5%). With regard to actual admission to prison, the number of people detained for these crimes is currently around 1,200, with driving without a license (39%) and reckless homicide (22%) in the most common cases.
While men between the ages of 18 and 24 are the most recognised to have performed criminal practices, men between the ages of 41 and 50 are often those who have received the most convictions. In addition, potential offences such as speeding seem to be much more frequent than convictions indicate. Although 1.2 million motorists acknowledge that they have driven at more than 200 kilometres per hour, the sentences for this behaviour represent barely 0.6% of the total number of cases.
In Spain, 1.36% of drivers have been convicted of a crime against road safety in the last 4 years. Baleares, Murcia and Galicia are the regions that surpass the Spanish average, whereas on the opposite side of the scale are Cantabria, Extremadura and Aragon, with indices much lower than the Spanish average.
By type of crime, Catalonia is the Community with the highest proportion of speeding convictions and refusal to perform blood tests or drug detections. For its part, Baleares leads the ranking in driving offences under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Murcia, for driving without a licence.
Surprisingly, in spite of their high degree of ignorance, the vast majority of Spaniards (91%) are in favour of maintaining jail sentences for road safety offences, and 14% are committed to harden them even more. In addition, many people want to classify more conduct as crimes against road safety: 60% believe that taking children in the car without a child retention system should be a crime, 44% of drivers would include handling, manipulating or using a mobile phone whilst driving to be a criminal offence, and 34% of people believe that any positive rate in the breathalyser test should be a criminal act.
Also, despite the work of the prosecutors and judges, the perception of the Spanish population is that justice system is not the same for everyone. In fact, 83% believe that judgments against famous drivers are softer than they should be and 19% demand harsher penalties with celebrities than with other citizens, always with the aim of enhancing exemplarity in society.