To the detriment of the more concentrated Mediterranean model, the importation of an American lifestyle, which moves the population out to residential areas, obliging them to invest more time in traveling back and forth and making more use of private transport, has led to high growth in traffic levels.
This article attempts to make an empirical assessment of the effects of this new urban model during the decade 2003 to 2013, with the help of statistical data.
Research reveals that there is a positive correlation between the level of urban development and the requirements of road safety policies in cities. In the specific case of provincial Spanish cities, the more extensive the metropolitan area, the more serious the accidents that occur in it. A negative correlation has also been found between higher population densities and fatal accidents.
Taking the results obtained into account, it can be concluded that urban dispersion is a risk factor when it comes to serious accidents. Given the impossibility of avoiding a high volume of journeys or cutting their distance in large urban sprawls, transport planning and management becomes a public health issue.
From the perspective of road safety, it would be desirable to encourage urban concentration in preference to the suburban model that has predominated over recent decades in Spanish cities.