Just a half an hour’s drive from Barcelona tucked away in the Besòs valley of eastern Catalonia is the town of Mollet, as its residents usually call it.
In its more than 1,000 years of history, its only real claim to ‘fame’ was that it hosted the 1992 Barcelona Olympics shooting competition.
That’s until now, as Mollet has just been awarded the first Zero City Educational Prize for not having recorded a single road death in the past 11 years.
The accolade, awarded by the International Association of Road Safety Professionals (AIPSEV) as part of the European Mobility Week initiative, went specifically to Mollet’s police force and town council.
So how exactly does Mollet prevent traffic accidents so effectively when in neighbouring Barcelona 25 people died on the roads just this summer?
“It’s not down to chance or one road safety campaign in particular,” Mollet Mayor Josep Monràs told El País.
“For years we’ve had a road education class in schools as well as an awareness campaign for young adults, and even another aimed at older people.
Every year more than 3,000 children are taught road education measures in a local park, with Monràs estimating that almost all of Mollet’s residents under the age of 40 have received some form of traffic tuition by local police.
Photo: Rafael Ferran/Wikimedia
In addition to this, officers carry out road checks regularly as well as mapping and analysing each and every one of the places where road accidents have taken place in Mollet.
“If we spot a problem we immediately intervene; we’ll add a traffic light, remove a plant stand,” Monràs explains.
Despite its relatively small size, Mollet also has an above average number of security cameras watching over its streets, making it next to impossible for speeding drivers to get away with it.
“We usually send a photo to the drivers with their speeding tickets, giving them no chance of being able to dispute the claim,” local chief inspector Francisco Muñoz added.
Mollet’s 71 police officers also carried out more breathalyser tests on drivers during last year’s Carnival period than any other Catalan municipality other than the far bigger cities of Barcelona and Girona.
Does that mean there are never any road accidents in Mollet? Far from it.
In 2018 there were 365 traffic accidents in which 79 people were injured, four of them seriously.
But nobody died, Muñoz clarifying that 35 percent of the incidents took place whilst drivers were parking.
Photo: JT Curses
Even though there have been fatal road accidents on the highways that surround Mollet, none have occurred within the 10 square kilometre perimeter of this town of 51,000 inhabitants.
“I’m convinced that in order to have safer cities, we can’t just focus on fines but also on awareness and prevention,” Monràs concludes.
“However, we must review Spain’s penal code and hand out much stronger punishments than we currently give to crimes against traffic safety.”