New traffic and road safety law in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
traffic law

The new traffic and road safety law has been in force now for almost a week. But are you aware of the changes? 

According to Pere Navarro, the Director-General of Traffic, “it is a Law that is committed to the future since the environmental policy is incorporated into the Traffic Law, forcing road users to protect it and with express references to episodes of high pollution and low emission zones. It is also innovative because it establishes, for the first time, the regulation of the autonomous vehicle in order to provide it with a legal framework capable of guaranteeing the requirements in relation to road safety”.

In February of this year, there were 79 deaths on the road. February 14 recorded the highest number of deaths in a 24-hour period during the month. Of the 79 deaths, the majority occurred in Andalucia (15), then Cataluña (13), followed by Valencia (11). From the total number of those who died on the roads this February, 14 were not wearing a seat belt, and one cyclist was not wearing a helmet. Source – DGT.

In the first 2 months of 2022, there have been 161 road accidents which caused 179 deaths. This is 69 more deaths than the previous year. The new law seeks to adapt to the changing times and continue improving road safety.

Here we list a summary of the changes that have been implemented.

Distractions

According to the DGT, distractions while driving have been the leading cause of fatal road accidents. Consequently, the number of points deducted from your license moves from 3 to 6. This includes even holding a mobile phone in your hand.

Seat Belts and other protections

The number of points rises from 3 to 4 under seat belts and protection elements. A seat belt must be worn, and worn correctly. Also, children should have the appropriate protection and restraints according to their age. Motorcyclists and e-scooter riders should wear a helmet. Furthermore, the government wants to introduce airbags for those learning to ride motorbikes.

Speed

Previously, drivers could exceed the speed limit by 20km/h when overtaking on conventional roads. This is no longer permitted under the new law. A third of fatal accidents occur on these roads, with many of them as head-on collisions. The new law hopes to reduce this risk.

Alcohol

For underage drivers, there is a zero-tolerance for alcohol levels. This is classed as very serious and carries a €500 fine.

Bicycles and mopeds

This February alone, 4 cyclists have been killed. The new law states that when there is more than one lane in each direction, motorists must move into a different lane when overtaking. Furthermore, at least 1.5 metres of space must be given when overtaking, otherwise, this is seen as endangering the cyclist. The number of points deducted increases from 4 to 6 for this infringement. In addition, stopping or parking on bike lanes or cycle paths is prohibited.

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Renewal of license points

Drivers may recover their full points if not more offenses have been committed for 2 years. Previously, this was dependent on the severity of the offense but has now been simplified.

However, 2 points can be recovered if the driver undertakes a safe and efficient driving course. Obviously, there are certain conditions that must be met.

Throwing objects

This is now considered a very serious offense. We have seen the devastation caused by carelessly throwing cigarettes out the car window. Throwing any object from the car capable of causing an accident or fire will result in 6 points being deducted and a €500 fine.

Biker communication

As long as it does not interfere with safety, bikers are permitted to use a certified or approved wireless device within the helmet. This is for navigation or communication purposes.

Other aspects of the new law

There are other aspects of the new law that have an impact on the environment or come into force when not driving.

The Climate Change and Energy Transition Law requires municipalities with over 50,000 inhabitants to establish Low Emission Zones by the end of 2022. Not adhering to requirements on pollution and low emission will carry a €200 fine.

When sitting the test to obtain or recover a license, it is not permitted to use communication devices. This is seen as fraud and a €500 fine. Anyone caught doing this will not be able to re-take the test again for 6 months. 

From July 6, drivers of vehicles licensed to carry passengers will be obliged to use an anti-start breathalyser if their vehicle has been fitted with one. 

For information on what to do if you receive a fine, read our next article to be published Monday, March 28.

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