In 2016, Secretary of State for Internal Administration, Jorge Gomes, called the N125, which connects Vila Real de Santo António to Vila do Bispo, the ‘road of death’, one of the most dangerous in Portugal, with five dark points. Seven years later, the road continues to be one of the deadliest in the country. It in large part contributed to Faro being at the top of road accidents and casualty tables.

According to the latest report by the National Road Safety Association (ANSR) shared this summer, the Faro district registered one of the largest percentage increases in the field of road accidents, with 20.6% more than in 2021, positioning it only behind Viana do Castelo (21.9%). Swapping the percentual value for the absolute, we’re looking at 2035 accidents (collisions, crashes, hit and runs), which caused 37 fatal injuries (26 in 2021), 174 seriously injured and 2290 lightly. In respect to fatalities, above Faro only came Lisbon (58), Setúbal (46) and Porto (41).

“The N125 is a road where everything happens - people sell oranges, eat, go to night clubs, buy cars and even seek funeral services,” the president and founder of the Automobile Citizens Associations, an organisation seeking to defend the rights of pedestrians, drivers and other road users, told Postal do Algarve. “The N125 is a total disaster. It’s a pile of total scenic dysregulation that’s caused by unrestrained local power, where everything is licensed and allowed. Nowadays, it’s a bit tamer,” Manuel João Ramos said.

For this representative, there are many factors making the N125 so dangerous. “It’s a road which mixes short, medium and long-haul transport, it mixes motorbikes, cars, trucks, and buses. There’s a lot of diversity in traffic that can cause tragedy. It looks like everything ends up there.”

Not even the creation of the A22, known as the Via do Infante, which only was completed in 2003, took away from the N125. “Since the beginning the Via do Infante presented itself as a weak alternative since it wasn’t a true motorway and it had tolls, which makes people who want to save a bit of money drive on the N125. Confronted with the fact that this road has tollbooths, Manuel João Ramos says that “no lunch is free.” “Someone has to pay. Does the government? The driver? The population in general? Does someone living in Trás-os-Montes pay? The financing model was never target of a public discussion.” They then give an example of the subject, “Have you seen how our neighbour Spain doesn’t charge to use the motorways?”

Following data from the ANSR’s latest report, in 2022 Portuguese roads were the stage for 34 275 accidents with victims. From North to South, and still counting with the Madeira and Azores regions, 473 people ended up losing their lives, while 2436 were hurt badly and another 40,123 only suffered light injuries. Of the fatal victims, 66.5% were drivers, 18.4% were passengers and 15.1% were pedestrians.