We see the usual horror stories about road accidents and lesser tales concerning the usual variety of bad behaviour behind the wheel. But the UK is, generally, one of the better EU countries when it comes to road safety. Bottom of that league has routinely been the preserve of places like Greece and Portugal, although the latter is a lot better than when I first visited.
There is a general acceptance of allowing pedestrians to cross roads at recognised locations, and even to slow down or stop to allow them to make their ground. The almost obligatory tailgating has been reduced, although one of Senhora Eva’s drivers nearly got caught out by a braking shock coming back through the line just after the Ponte Vasco da Gama last Friday. I know this as I was on board.
Making further progress in this area is a hot topic right now in the country, particularly as the GNR Traffic Brigade has been disbanded, with its officers being redeployed to eighteen other traffic units. This has been controversial, and the President of the Portuguese Automobile Club, Carlos Barbosa, has called for the Brigade to be reinstated.
What relevance does this have for us Brits? Well, until recently, car hire companies across the Algarve worked hard to keep the vehicles that had come back in a less than pristine state away from the eyes of prospective punters: the incidence of crashes on roads like the EN125 was grim, and tourists got caught up in too many of them. So the continuing improvement in road safety in Portugal is in our interest too.