Traffic law reform in Spain sees six points for using a mobile phone and 30 kph max speed on urban streets

Traffic law reform in Spain

The penalty for driving whilst speaking with a mobile phone has been increased to 6 points. This was just one of several changes to the road traffic law in Spain.

On Tuesday this week, the Council of Ministers approved various reforms. These include an increase from three to four points the penalty issued for driving without a seat belt. This points penalty is also the same for not have appropriate child restraints or not wearing a crash helmet on a motorcycle.

Other changes include a fine of 500 euros and the loss of three points for having a device that detects speed cameras. This should not be confused with navigation devices that use a database and identify where fixed speed cameras are placed. Please see this article as to what is legal and illegal.

New speed limits

Additionally, urban streets have a new maximum speed limit of 30 kilometres per hour. This is when there is only one lane in each direction. Where there is no difference in the height of the pavement and the road the speed limit will be further reduced to 20 kph.  If there are two lanes in each direction the limit is 50 kilometres per hour.

One other important change is the withdrawal of the law that allowed you to increase your speed by up to 20 kph above the actual speed limit. This was only permitted when overtaking a vehicle, not driving at the speed limit, on a conventional road.

Electric scooters

The legal position was clarified regarding the use of electric scooters. From 2 of January 2021 you cannot use an electric scooter on the pavement or in a pedestrianised area. The maximum speed is 25 kph.

The riders of electric scooters can be subjected to alcohol testing and they must not use headphones whilst operating the scooter.

Vehicles used by people with reduced mobility such as mobility scooters are exempt from these new reforms.

Traffic law reform in Spain
Traffic law reform in Spain
electric scooters in spain

When does all this start?

The modifications related to the Traffic Regulations and Vehicles will enter into force on January 2, 2021. However, the amendment to article 50 of the General Traffic Regulations (speeds in urban areas) will enter into force six months after its publication in the Official State Gazette so that citizens know them adequately and so that public administrations have enough time to adapt the signage. The modifications related to the drivers regulation will come into force the day after the publication od the Royal Decree in the BOE.

Source: DGT.es

Notifications of fines in Spain

Traffic infringements are notified by normal post in Spain. If you are worried about receiving the notification, because the post service is not great in your area or you are out of the country a lot then we offer a special product for a flat annual fee. Once signed up you will receive an email or SMS text message to notify you if you have received a new fine.

Speed limits change on Spanish roads

In the spring of 2019, the speed limits in Spain will change.  The Law is being passed that will see a simplification of the current speed limits. The change will mean that cars, motorcycles and buses will be limited to 90 kph on conventional roads, whilst all other vehicles must travel at a speed of no more than 80 kph. An exception will be where the conventional road has a physical separation between to two opposing flows of traffic. In this case, the maximum speed limit will be 100 kph for cars and motorcycles.

You can exceed the 90 kph limit in a car or motorcycle if you are overtaking a vehicle on a conventional road. In fact, you can increase your speed to 110 kph to overtake but then must fall back to the speed limit. The idea is to allow swift and safe overtaking, however, you can only exceed the normal speed limit if the vehicle you overtake is not driving already at 90 kph. If the vehicle in front is doing 80 kph for eaxmple you can temporarily exceed the speed limit. If the vehcile in front is already doing 90 kph then you have no right to increase your velocity to overtake.

On a motorway, there will be three speed limits. Cars a motorcycles will continue to be allowed to travel at 120 kph. Trucks and vans will be restricted to a maximum of 90 kph. The remainder of vehicles will have a maximum limit of 100 kph and this includes buses.

The reasoning behind the reduction in speed limits relates to the Directorate deTrafico (DGT) goal of further reducing the number of road deaths. There are numerous studies linking speed with road deaths. This amendment to speed limits is estimated to reduce the number of casualties by a further 10%.

Accidents on conventional roads is twice as high as those on motorways so it seems logicalthat this is an area the DGT look at.

Sweden recently reduced the speed limit in their country from 90 kph to 80 kph which saw a huge 41% reduction in road deaths.

It is also worth noting that the speed indicated on the sign is the maximum allowed and is not necessarily a target.

Have you seen a speed limit in a square sign with a blue background? Well this sign is used to recommend a maximum speed limit. This is not the same as the round sign with a red border which indicates the maximum you are allowed to travel at. The blue background is a recommendation.

Speed limits in Spain

speed limits in spain

Once driving in Spain, especially on the motorways, you will soon realise what a pleasure it can be, compared to the congested motorways of the UK, for example.

However, in order not to spoil your trip, you will need to keep alert of the various speed limits. The fines can be large and will ruin most people’s day and may come accompanied by the removal of some points from your licence. In Spain, you start with 12 points on your licence. This can go up to 15 if you continue to keep out of trouble. If you are penalised for a traffic infringement then points can be deducted from the total you currently have.

Speed Limits in SPain
Infographic: DGT.es

For the main reasons for incurring a loss of points on your licence you can visit this article.

In urban areas, the maximum speed limit is generally 50 kilometres per hour unless otherwise indicated. On secondary roads, the speed limit depends on the width of any hard shoulder. So the maximum speed will be 90 kilometres per hour or 100 kilometres per hour. If you are travelling on a motorway then the speed limit for cars and motorcycles is a maximum of 120 kilometres per hour. Clearly, if there is a road sign indicated a lower speed limit or roadworks indicating a reduced speed then that signal takes precedence over the highway code norm.

If you are towing a trailer in Spain on a motorway then the maximum speed limit is 90 kph, if the maximum weight of the trailer is 750kg or less. If the trailer is larger then the maximum speed is 80 kph. On conventional roads outside of an urban area the speed limit would be 80 kph if there is a hard shoulder of 1.5 metres or 70kph if not.

The level of fine and penalty points lost will depend on the speed over the limit you were doing at the time and how quickly you are prepared to pay the fine. Here is a table that explains what the fine (multa) will be and how many points will be taken from your licence (puntos). Usually, the fine is halved if you pay within a short period of time, which is detailed in the penalty notice you receive.

Speeding fines in Spain
Infographic: DGT.es