UPDATE: Six road deaths in 18 hours as GNR launch “Operation Welcome”

Within hours of August 1 – the start of Portugal’s traditional holiday month – six people had lost their lives on the country’s roads and bye-ways.
As funerals went ahead, the GNR launched its “Operation Welcome” – designed to “reinforce the concept of a safe country”.
Over 200 agents were posted at frontiers in Valença (Viana do Castelo), Vila Verde da Raia (Vila Real), Quintanilha (Bragança), Vilar Formoso (Guarda), Caia (Portalegre) and Castro Marim (Faro) “with the intention of intensifying traffic patrols and giving information on principal causes of accidents and the need for drivers to take rest breaks during their journeys”.
An estimated 50,000 Portuguese return to Portugal for their summer holidays in August, and the initiative involved police handing out leaflets, watching out for drink-drivers, speeding, the correct use of seatbelts and child car-seats, as well as the condition of drivers’ tyres.
Thus, “Operation Welcome” was also designed to bring in fines – which it managed to do, according to its final report, in 53 cases.
Offences ranged from drink-driving to speeding, talking on a mobile phone while driving and driving without an MOT.
As the operation wound up, police reported they had stopped as many as 3,631 drivers. Of this total, one was found to be driving without a valid licence.
Deaths this year were up on last, with more serious injuries in accidents as well.
As “Operation Welcome” got underway, a shorter national initiative dubbed “Operation Hermes – Travel in Safety” began, registering a total of 710 accidents (with two deaths) on the nation’s roads between Friday (August 1) and Sunday.
According to Hermes’ final report, there were 97 more accidents this year than last.