Traffic Law is Updated


This week, 21st March to be precise, the latest amendment to the Law on Traffic, Circulation of Motor Vehicles and Road Safety came into force. Its objective is mainly focused on the “review of infractions that detract points”, says Francisco Alas-Pumariño, head of the Regulations Unit of the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT).
For the DGT, it is very clear that what is known as Permission by Points has proven to be a very valid tool to reduce accidents on roads and cities. The data corroborates it. The year 2005 (the last one without points) closed with 3,268 deaths on interurban roads, according to data from the DGT. In 2006 (the Permission for Points entered into force on July 1 of that year) the balance of fatalities was 2,989 people, and in 2021 1,004 people died in traffic accidents.
More points, same fines
Several specific studies on this matter indicate that around 15% of the reduction that occurred between 2005 and 2009 was directly due to the impact of the points and, even, indicates Alas-Pumariño “it contributed decisively to internalising what are the behaviours and attitudes that pose a greater risk for driving. But it was also very clear that more than 10 years had passed since its last modification (in 2009) and, as the head of the DGT Regulations Unit underlines, “it was necessary to update it to improve the efficiency of the system and adapt it to the times”.
In total, the new Law contains about 50 novelties. We have already covered many of them, but we will explain the most important again:
Carrying the mobile in your hand
Manual manipulation of the mobile phone, browser or any other communication device while driving is prohibited. As well as the use of helmets or headphones. Yes, hands-free is allowed.
WHY?
Since 2016, distractions are already the leading cause of fatal accidents. In 2020, in 31% of fatal accidents, distractions were the contributing factor.
Intercom between bikes
The use of certified or approved wireless devices for use in the helmet for communication and navigation purposes is authorised.
WHY?
It is a repeated claim of the motorcycle sector, and now new technologies make it possible safely.
Not using the seat belt, CRS and helmet properly
It will be considered an infraction not to use a seat belt or to wear it inappropriately, as well as applying to the CRS (child seat) for children and the helmet on motorcyclists.
WHY?
One in four deaths in cars or vans was not wearing a seat belt. The DGT considers that if they do not use it, it is because they do not want to, not because they do not know that it is mandatory to do so.
Safe and efficient driving courses
The DGT is committed to the training of drivers who want to improve their driving and make it safer and more efficient, through voluntary courses. They will be rewarded with 2 points, provided they have a positive balance. One course of each type may be taken every 2 years.
WHY?
They have been consolidated as a good practice. A Ministerial Order will determine its content.
They are different from the awareness and re-education courses that are mandatory for drivers who have lost all their points or their driving licence.
Recovery of points
After 2 years without the driver being sanctioned for committing an infraction that entails deduction of points, the initial balance of points will be recovered. It does not matter if the offences are serious or very serious.
WHY?
Until now, 2 years had to pass if the infringement had been serious and 3 if it had been very serious. An administrative complication that did not provide more security or more driver awareness. It facilitates the communication of this rule and the understanding of the citizen.
Goodbye at 20 km/h when overtaking
On conventional roads, drivers may not exceed the maximum speed allowed to overtake other vehicles by 20 km/h.
WHY?
Two out of every three fatal accidents occur on conventional roads. Overtaking is undoubtedly a risky manoeuvre, reducing the number of these manoeuvres is to reduce the accident rate on conventional roads, a priority in road safety policy. In addition, this exception does not exist in any country in our environment.
Not respecting the instructions of the agents and panels
Failure to respect the signs, orders or indications of the agents in charge of the regulation, organisation, management, surveillance and discipline of traffic, as well as the indications of the variable message panels located on the roads.
WHY?
The regulations establish that the indications of the panels are also mandatory, and therefore punishable.
Pedestrian priority
Pedestrians will have priority over vehicles in crossings, on pavements and in pedestrian areas. In addition, bicycles and VMPs will not be able to circulate on the pedestrian areas. Exceptions will be established by regulation.
WHY?
Until now, only pedestrian crossings were mentioned, pavements and pedestrian areas have been added to cover pedestrian preference in accesses, for example. It is important to remember that at some point we are all pedestrians.
Overtaking cyclists
To overtake a bicycle or a moped you must keep a minimum distance of 1.5 metres. If the road has two or more lanes in each direction, it is mandatory to completely change lanes to carry out the manoeuvre.
WHY?
To improve the safety of this vulnerable group in their increasingly frequent journeys both by road and in urban areas. In 2020, 71 cyclists died in traffic accidents.
Parking in the bike lane
Stopping or parking any vehicle in the bike lanes or paths is prohibited.
WHY?
If it is already on the bus lanes, it seems logical that it is also on the increasingly frequent bike lanes in our cities. The bicycle is one more means of transport, more and more numerous, and we have to learn to live with it and protect this most vulnerable group.
Riding a scooter on the highway or motorway
The VMP (scooters) will not be able to circulate on the highway or motorway.
WHY?
This prohibition is already included in the Regulation of Urban Measures (the one known by the 30 km/h in the city); With this Law, it is given legal coverage necessary to sanction this infraction.
Bike and scooter classes
The regulations are approved so that training in the driving of bicycles and personal mobility vehicles is included in the educational programming.
WHY?
The DGT is strongly committed to education as the best action to reduce risks and children as the most important group. They are now and will be road users both as drivers and as pedestrians.
Carrying radar inhibitors
The use or its installation is prohibited, and now also the carrying of radar inhibitors or any other instrument that eludes or interferes with the operation of traffic surveillance systems, or emits or makes signals to warn of the position of a radar.
WHY?
These systems interfere with the proper functioning of traffic surveillance systems and put the safety of road users at risk.
Zero alcohol for minors
The 0 rate of alcohol (both in blood and in exhaled air) is introduced for the first time for drivers under 18 years of age (bicycles, scooters, mopeds with AM and A1 permits).
WHY?
If the sale of alcohol to minors is prohibited, the DGT considers their correspondence in driving logical and reasonable. In addition, in 27% of the accidents registered in 2020, the main contributing factor was alcohol.
Circulate if it is restricted due to contamination or in ZBE
It is mandatory to respect the traffic restrictions derived from the application of the protocols in the event of pollution episodes and in low emission zones (ZBE).
WHY?
The Climate Change Law obliges municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants to start up these areas in 2022 and, legal coverage had to be given to the municipalities for the surveillance, control and sanction of their non-compliance.
Throwing cigarette butts
The number of points lost is increased (from 4 to 6 points) for throwing objects that could cause fires or accidents onto the road or in its vicinity.
WHY?
Reduce the risk of road accidents and worrying damage to the environment.
Cheating in exams
The use of intercom devices in tests for obtaining or recovering permits or driving licences (for example, earpieces) is prohibited. In addition to the fine, they will not be able to take the exam again for 6 months.
WHY?
It is a widespread practice and it is very serious that a person without adequate knowledge can obtain a licence and drive.
Impersonation (someone else introduces themselves as you) is a criminal offence.
The licence, on the mobile
Now with the miDGT app you can prove that you have authorisation to drive.
WHY?
Put the facilities provided by new technologies at the service of the citizen.
Professional drivers
Companies dedicated to the transport of people or goods and the self-employed who have employees are made possible to know if a professional driver who works with them has a valid driving licence, without requiring the authorisation of the worker.
WHY?
Transport companies demand the possibility of controlling whether their workers comply with legal requirements, are responsible and are aware of road safety.
Alcolock for professionals
As of July 6, 2022, newly registered vehicles dedicated to passenger transport will have the pre-installation of so-called alcolocks (devices connected to the starting system that prevent the vehicle’s engine from starting if the driver exceeds the rate of permitted breathalyser). And your driver must use them.
WHY?
Mandatory regulations established by the European Union.
Data for reflection
In 2009, more than 1.5 million firm penalties with loss of points were imposed. In 2019, the figure was reduced to 1.1 million sanctions. 26 % less.
Almost 3,000 firm penalties for drug use behind the wheel were imposed in 2009, ten years later, in 2019, the 37,000 penalties were exceeded. Increase of more than 1,000%.
Between 2015 and 2019, the use of helmets by deceased motorcyclists increased by 10% on urban roads.
On the same dates, the average use of seat belts in fatalities increased slightly. It went from 73% to 76%, on interurban roads.
In 2006, more than 34,000 proceedings were initiated for offences against road safety for the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs while driving. In 2020, it was 57,000 procedures.

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