e-step: road safety continues to attract attention

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e-step - one of the key foci for traffic reforms

The e-step as a means of personal mobility is increasingly popular in cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza and Málaga. A new proposal for safety may include compulsory insurance and points deduction.

This has consequences for road safety and the number of accidents is increasing.

The rules are already stricter. Prohibited on pavements and in pedestrian areas, e-steps have a maximum speed of 25 km/ph and drivers must obey traffic rules.

Municipalities get some respite

In the meantime, it is a matter of waiting until 12th May for the speed limit changes in towns to take effect. Spanish newspaper ABC reports the new limits are: 50 km/ph on roads with two or more lanes, 30 km/ph for single lane in both directions, and 20 km/ph on single lane roads.

Although this change in limits is already a royal decree in the Official Gazette (BOE), the Ministry of the Interior wanted to give the municipalities more time to adapt the signs and roads. Regulations for the use of personal mobility vehicles (VMP) in the city will also change and, if necessary, parking areas will be set up for them. 

Increasing clarity 

Since Saturday, anyone who rides an e-step must, like any other driver, obey the traffic rules. Police may administer a breathalyser test. No agreement is in place on whether or not VMPs should be subject to compulsory insurance.

“We will work out a much more detailed regulation in a second phase of discussions with the municipalities, with all the experience we have gained. We want to cover all topics, including insurance,” reported Director General of Traffic, Pere Navarro. The municipal police will be responsible for supervision and control. They will also set priorities with their municipalities for punishing certain offences.

New forms of mobility

Regulating the e-step is part of a package of legal reforms approved by the government on 10 November. It aims to create a new model of road safety. This should reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries by 50% over the next 10 years.

With the new measures, the Directorate-General for Traffic (DGT), under the mandate of Pere Navarro, wanted to respond to new forms of mobility, especially in the city. The accident rate among the most vulnerable users – motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians – is already close to 50% of all road deaths, and rising. In built-up areas, this percentage is as high as 80%.

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Improved safety, traffic flow and air quality

Reason enough for the Ministry of the Interior to reduce the speed limit on city streets. A change that, “guarantees both the flow of traffic in wide city streets and a reduction in the negative impact on air quality”.

Moreover, various studies have shown that the risk of death in a car crash is at least five times lower at 30km/ph than at 50 km/ph.

‘The speed of the vehicle is directly related to the pedestrian’s chances of survival when hit by the vehicle’, says the text of the new regulation.

Consequences for the points driving licence

The points-based driving licence, in force since 2006, has more than met its objectives; the DGT believes the time is now right for a reform. The change, announced and designed, has not yet been debated in Parliament. This will probably happen in the new part-session, after which they expect approval to follow quickly. The proposal is to increase the deduction for driving with a mobile phone in your hand from 3 to 6 points. The fine remains unchanged at €200.

A deduction of 4 instead of 3 points will be made for: not using seat belts or child restraints and not wearing helmets or driving without a seat belt fastened.

If the proposal succeeds, having radar or detection devices on board the vehicle, even if not activated, will be a serious offence with a fine of €500 and a deduction of 3 points.

Another planned measure is that cars and motorbikes cannot exceed the speed limit of 20 km/ph when overtaking on two-lane roads.

The DGT proposes by attending a certified safe-driving course, the driver reduces the points deduction by two points. Also, after two years without an offence, regardless of the seriousness of the offence committed, the original balance can be earned back.

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