Life in Spain

Sun 30 Mar 2014

This coming July will be the 9th
anniversary of the introduction of a points based driving licence here in
Spain. Since then, road accidents have dropped by 65%, so no one can be
critical of that particular legislation.

Now more changes are planned.
Recently, the Director General of Traffic (DGT) stated that the purpose of the
new proposed changes was to further reduce the number of deaths and accidents
on the road.

As a consequence, several changes
concern vehicle speeds. On some segments, motorway speeds will increase from
120 to 130kph. By contrast, urban speed limits will reduce from 50 to 30kph.
It’s claimed the reduction of 20kph, will uplift the survival chances from 5%
to 50%, of any pedestrian involved in a car collision. The plan is to further
reduce the speed limit, where pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles are in
close proximity, and on secondary roads where some 75% of road accidents occur.

Predictably, opponents of the
government are voicing the view that the plans are little to do with improved
safety on the roads, but everything to do with raising revenue through fines.

However, some changes seem
completely sensible. For example, if a test of a driver shows a ”mere presence
of a drug” it’s guilty as charged and a large fine will be imposed together
with 6 massive points coming off the driving licence. There’s an increased fine
for drink drivers too. The introduction of saliva testing for both drug and
alcohol presence will ensure none of these idiots will be able to escape

Drugs and alcohol tests for
pedestrians who jay walk – not just those who are involved in a traffic
accident are on the cards. There are also plans for a total ban on speed camera

The new regulations are not all
about restrictions though – rules that restrict the right of cancer patients to
drive will be relaxed. Currently, doctors have to specifically support a cancer
patient’s right to drive and to liaise with DGT on their behalf. The plan now
is to relax such restrictions.

New rules will be introduced setting
out deadlines for the registration in Spain of foreign registered vehicles.
Authorities claim it is difficult to track down owners at present, making fine
collection almost impossible.

It’s likely that police will be able
to fine drivers for offences without having to pull them over. However, before
this change, and all the others mentioned, come into force – they will first
have to be published in the official state bulletin.

A final aim of the changes is to
promote cycling and the use of bicycles. To this end, children under 16 will
need to wear cycling helmets. Furthermore cyclists will be allowed to travel
below the minimum speed limit. This illustrates extreme naivity on the part of
the reformists. As a regular pedestrian and vehicle user, it’s possible to
claim with certainty that cyclists do not take any notice of existing road
traffic rules – like traffic lights and pedestrian crossings, so why assume
they will obey any new regulations. It would be interesting to see statistics
relating to accidents caused by cyclists riding 3, often 4 abreast!

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