What will change with the new traffic law in Spain?

by Lorraine Williamson
traffic law

MADRID – On Thursday, the Spanish government gave the green light to the new traffic law, which introduces a number of important changes. For example, looking at a mobile phone behind the wheel will be punished more severely. 

If the Senate has also approved the new law, it will come into effect in the coming months. At the insistence of Ciudadanos and the PP, an alcohol interlock will be installed in all cars and trucks for professional use. Therefore, the vehicle’s engine can only be started if a breathalyser test shows that the driver has not consumed alcohol. 

Maximum speed of 25 km per hour 

Another important change is that electric scooters and bicycles are no longer allowed to drive on the sidewalk. In addition, a maximum speed of 25 kilometres per hour will apply for the scooters. And, furthermore, there will be a registration certificate for this means of transport. The same rules will apply to drivers of electric scooters and bicycles as to all other drivers. However, this is with the exception of driving on motorways. Whether or not wearing a helmet on an electric scooter or bicycle will be mandatory depends on the decision of the various municipal and provincial authorities. 

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Unsafe behaviour costs more points 

Road users who exhibit ‘risky’ behaviour, such as using a mobile phone, must surrender more driving license points for this; there were 3 and will be 6. Not wearing the seat belt, helmet, or other protective equipment is also charged more heavily. Currently, that costs 3 points which will be increased to 4. 

Opinions are divided about the effectiveness of the driving license points system. If the starting balance of 12 points after a number of violations falls to zero or even below, the driver’s license will in principle not be withdrawn. However, a fine of up to €6,000 or a prison sentence of up to 6 months will follow. The lost points can be earned back if a compulsory course of traffic service DGT has been successfully completed. 

Overtaking above maximum speed remains allowed 

Ultimately, it was decided to maintain the rule that the maximum speed may be exceeded by 20 km per hour when overtaking another vehicle. This rule has been in force in Spain for 50 years but has been strongly criticised by a number of parties. Other parties took action against this, who believe that this measure should continue to exist. A majority was in favour of the abolition of the measure. However, it remains in force due to a voting error in the new traffic law.

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