Slow Down!

All last week, including through the weekend, the Guardia Civil were paying even closer attention to road users than usual, looking specifically at those breaking the speed limit.
The aim of the campaign, which is a regular one on the calendar of special attention, is with the aim of reducing incidents and collisions and the consequences derived from them.
In 2018 (the last year from which consolidated data is available) speed was the second concurrent factor in fatal incidents, specifically, 22%, only behind distracted driving and ahead of alcohol consumption.
According to the study “Speed and risk of an accident” carried out by the International Transport Forum (ITF), seeding is the main problem in all countries around the world, in fact, an estimate for Norway shows that if all drivers were driving below the speed limits, the number of deaths would be reduced by 20% (Elvik 2011).
The campaign focussed on the specific risks associated with inappropriate speed, especially those breaking the speed limit on roads with a higher number of incidents.
After three months in which mobility has been reduced to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, the DGT is appealing that the desire to go out to visit family and friends and to live does not translate this summer into greater speed at the wheel. The speed limits are not arbitrary and are established based on the characteristics of the road.
Speed has a direct influence on the occurrence and severity of traffic accidents. With higher driving speeds, the number of claims and their severity increases exponentially. This relationship has been shown in several models, especially in Nilsson’s “Potential Model”. This shows that a 1% increase in average speed results in approximately a 2% increase in accidents with victims, an increase of 3% of serious accidents and a 4% increase in fatal accidents.
Closely related to speed is the stopping distance of the vehicle. On average, at 120 kilometres per hour, we will need a distance greater than a soccer field to stop.
EU’s Commitment to the Secure System
Road safety policies in the European Union are based on the Vision Zero approach and on the Safe System. Both systems are included in the DGT’s Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020. The Safe System recognised by International organisations such as the World Health Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, accepts that human beings make mistakes and seek to prevent these errors from causing death or serious injury.
Following this approach, international organisations advise that speed limits be established considering the forces that the human body can tolerate, which in the case of the urban environment should not exceed 30 kilometres per hour when vulnerable users may use the same space. In areas with intersections and high risk of lateral collisions the appropriate maximum speed would be 50 kilometres per hour on conventional roads without physical lane separation.
Approaching this Safe System, the DGT unified the generic speed on conventional roads at 90 kilometres per hour. These roads are where 75% of fatal accidents occurred last year, of which 38% were road exits and 27% frontal collisions (consolidated data from 2018).
As regards vehicles, the European Union has taken a step forward by forcing all new vehicles marketed in Europe from 2022 to incorporate, among other driving assistance systems, the intelligent speed limiter ISA that works with connected GPS and equipped with a camera that reads road signs, and warns the driver when the speed limit is exceeded.
Traffic regulations state that the maximum generic speed for passenger cars and motorcycles on motorways 120 kilometres per hour, 90 kilometres per hour on secondary roads, and 50 kilometres per hour on urban roads.
Therefore, and taking into account these speeds, drivers who do not comply with them will be committing a serious or very serious offence, punished with a fine of between 100 to 600 euro and the loss of between 2 and 6 points, depending on the severity of the offence.
In the event that speed is greater than 60 kilometres per hour on urban roads or 80 kilometres per hour on interurban roads more than that permitted, the Penal Code criminalises the activity and is punishable by imprisonment of three to six months or a fine of six to twelve months or work for the benefit of the community from thirty-one to ninety days, and, in any case, to the deprivation of the right to drive motor vehicles and mopeds for a period greater than one and up to four years.