You are under surveillance

DGT under surveillance

From today and until 20 September there will be extra surveillance under the management of the Traffic Authorities (DGT) on Spain’s road network. It is part of an annual programme of special events and is extra significant as distractions are the one of the biggest cause of fatalities on the roads. In 2019 and for the fourth year running distraction was the main factor in 28% of road fatalities.

This year the municipal police will also be involved in order to further strengthen the campaign. One of the main results of distraction is a head on collision with another vehicle travelling in the opposite direction.

The authorities have 12 helicopters, drones, 216 fixed cameras and fifteen unmarked vans at their disposal.

In order to avoid distractions, the traffic authorities recommend the following:

• Before taking the wheel: Sleep well, do not ingest alcohol and other drugs, do not eat large meals, take care of the intake of certain medications.
• On the way: Better not to smoke, and if you feel drowsy, stop.
• Maintain a comfortable temperature: 21 or 22 degrees is an advisable temperature.
• Careful with the mobile: It is an important cause of distractions. Use only for emergencies and with the car stopped. It is recommended to activate the ” car mode ” in those devices that have it.
• Radio / MP3: Handling them distracts us, systems that are controlled directly from the wheel are advisable. Programming stations and CDs before the trip is a good option.
• Traveling with GPS: Trying to program a route while traveling is very dangerous. It must be done before.

 THE MOBILE: THE KING OF DISTRACTIONS

One of the main reasons for driver distraction is the use of a mobile phone while driving. Its use multiplies by four the risk of suffering an accident and the risk is comparable to driving with excess alcohol.

Using the mobile phone while driving means taking your eyes off the road for a certain time in which you travel a series of metres without the driver having control of the vehicle, since the attention is focused on the mobile.

According to the latest Distractions report prepared by RACE, 96% of the surveyed users confessed to having seen someone talking on their mobile while driving (80% on a regular basis) and 76% said they used it without speaking, only manipulating or looking at it. The report details that in the case of social networks, 18% of drivers admit to having used social networks while driving, of which 12% do so regularly. This percentage increases to 17% among young people between 18 and 24 years old. 

OTHER FACTORS THAT CAUSE DISTRACTION 

• Sleep and fatigue are two risk factors that are very unknown and at the same time highly implicated in road accidents: rear ending, leaving the road, or invading the opposite lane are very frequent types of accidents due to these factors.

• Smoking and driving: lighting a cigarette takes an average of 4 seconds. At a speed of 100 km / h, in that time we will have traveled 113 metres. According to the conclusions of various research studies, smoking while driving multiplies the risk of an accident by 1.5.

WHAT DOES THE LAW SAY?

The Road Safety Law considers it a serious offense to drive using mobile phone devices, Sat Navs or any other communication system manually, as well as driving using headphones or other devices that reduce the mandatory permanent attention to driving.

These infractions involve a fine of 200 euros and the loss of 3 points.

Source: DGT

Automatic notification of traffic fines in Spain

Automatic notification of traffic fines in Spain

Most of us have at some time exceeded the speed limit during our years of driving. The result could be a speeding fine from attentive traffic police or an unseen helicopter hovering overhead searching for traffic infringements.

Some of us may have committed other traffic infractions that, perhaps through ignorance, we hadn’t even realise we were committing.

The result could be a fine and points on our driving licence. However, the fine notification might not arrive until several months later. This may be long after we have forgotten about the incident.

Apart from our memory there are other problems with these notifications. They are sent by post.

How are Spanish traffic fines notified ?

Firstly, whilst I have every respect for post office delivery workers who have to deal with perhaps 20,000 properties all under the same post code, post does go astray. Also a lot of people living in the countryside in Spain frequently experience problems with mail delivery.

traffic finses in spain
Photo: DGT.es

Secondly, if you move house have you remembered to change the registered address of your car in Spain? The advice of a traffic fine may well be delivered but are you still living at that address?

Normally, if you pay the traffic fine within 20 days then you only have to pay half the amount. If you want to dispute the fine, because it appears to be a mistake, then this must be done within 30 days of it being received.

However, if the authorities don’t receive payment or an appeal then the full amount becomes automatically due. Late payment will also result in a surcharge.

The tax authorities take over management of the fine if it remains unpaid. The tax authorities will then try to contact you. In the meantime, the fine may attract further surcharges.

Embargoed accounts and other asset seizure

If the fine continues to be unpaid the tax authorities will start the process of embargoing your bank accounts. If there is insufficient money in the bank they will resort to other measures. This could be to take the money directly from your salary or embargo other assets such as property.

Postal delivery in some areas not the best and a change of address with the Regional Traffic Office is probably not at the top of our list of people and businesses to advise of a relocation. However, if you have a tendency to exceed the speed limit or park illegally then what was a relatively small misdemeanor becomes and expensive and inconvenient problem.

How can I receive notification of traffic fines in Spain automatically?

Well, if you are not good at keeping the Spanish authorities up to date with your current location or your postal service is not reliable then the best way to ensure you receive notification of any traffic fines in Spain is by contracting a product that automatically advises you.

For just 20 euros a year (2020) you can purchase a service whereby a company will scan the daily records of fines issued using your details. If they find something they will advise you by text or email. You can then arrange to make the payment, taking advantage of any early payment reduction, or appeal if it appears to be an error.

If it turns out that the infraction was impossible (perhaps some criminal has cloned your registration or you had sold the car) then the company will help you try to appeal the fine.

The service is provided to the individual so it does not matter how many cars you have. The person who is the owner of the car should take the product. If a couple have numerous cars, some in one partner’s name and some in another, then they should take the product each.

Interested? Fill the form in below and we will explain.

    Do I need insurance if I am not using my car in Spain ?

    Do I need insurance if I am not using my car in Spain

    If you have a car in Spain then you must have insurance. This is a legal obligation. If you have parked up the car in your underground parking because you are not using it you still have to maintain a car insurance policy. It doesn’t matter that you are not going to take it on the road or it is broken and unable to be driven.

    At least a third party insurance is needed in case your vehicle causes damage to others. Although the car is in the garage there is still a possible risk of an electrical short circuit, for example. The Spanish law states that all owners of motor vehicles in Spain must have an insurance for each of those vehicles with at least the minimum obligatory cover required by the law.

    A car without insurance could incur a penalty of between 600 and around 3,000 euros. It could also be that the authorities take the vehicle to a municipal compound if the position is not rectified within a few days.

    The only time a vehicle in Spain is not obliged to have insurance is when it is registered officially with the traffic authorities as off the road either temporarily or permanently.

    Can you overtake on the right in Spain?

    Can you overtake on the right in Spain?

    How often have you been travelling on a motorway and seen another driving sitting in the middle lane or even circulating in the left most lane whilst there is no traffic in the right hand lane?

    These “left lane syndrome” suffers, as they are known in Spain, cause traffic queues, sudden braking and sometimes accidents.   

    The regulations

    The driving regulations on Spanish roads do not allow you to overtake using a right hand lane, except in special circumstances mentioned below. Therefore, a vehicle in the middle lane is taking up two lanes and one in the left hand lane is blocking three lanes of traffic. Under normal traffic conditions in Spain, you should always be circulating in the lane furthest to the right-hand side. If there is a second and/or third lane to the left then these are used for overtaking. Once an overtaking manoeuvre is complete, you should return to the right-hand lane once more.

    We have probably all come across a driver, travelling below the speed limit and using the left hand lane whilst there is no traffic to the right. This can cause the driver behind to brake suddenly causing a ripple effect with the vehicles behind or even more serious consequences.

    Fines and loss of points

    The driver continuing to drive in the left lane whilst not overtaking traffic is breaking the road traffic laws. If caught they could be fined 200 euros. However, before you decide to pass on the right you should be aware it is also a serious infraction of article 82 of the Road Traffic regulations. Overtaking on the right may result in a fine of several hundred euros and the loss of four points from your driving licence.

    Exceptions

    One of the few occasions you can pass on the right hand side of another vehicle is if you are in a traffic jam. If the lanes of traffic are moving slowly, it might be that at some stage the right hand lane moves slightly faster than the left hand lane. This results in you overtaking traffic using the lane on the right hand side of a motorway, for example. This is not an infraction of article 82 but does depend on the density of traffic and speed.

    Another example might be on a slip road when entering the motorway or when a certain lane is designated for a particular type of vehicle to circulate.

    Remember, you should circulate in the right hand lane unless you are overtaking another vehicle. Additionally, overtaking on the right is a serious traffic offence that can result in a fine and loss of points on your licence.

    Infractions that cost you points on your licence in Spain

    Points on your licence in Spain

    Drivers in Spain start with 8 points on their driving licence when they pass their test. So do those who have lost their licence previously and receive it back after serving their penalty.

    After three years and assuming the driver has not lost any points the total increases to twelve. If you don’t commit any infractions for a period of three years the traffic authority will add two points to your total. After another three years, you can gain an additional point up to a maximum of 15 points.

    Points are lost when a driver in Spain is caught breaking the road traffic laws. It depends on the seriousness of the offence as to how many, if any points are lost.

    Probably the most frequent cause of a loss of points on your Spanish driving licence is speeding. If the speed limit is 50 kph and you are doing between 51 and 70 kph you will incur a fine but you won’t lose any points on your driving licence. However, if you are caught doing 71kph  in a 50kph zone then you will be fined and lose two points. Over 80kph and the points lost rises to 4 and then 6 for 91kph plus. Below is a table showing both the fine and the points lost. You may want to read more about Speed limits in Spain here.

    Fines and points lost for speeding in Spain

    There are plenty of other reasons you can lose points on your Spanish driving licence. Some of them are listed below:

    Description Points lost
    1 Driving with excess alcohol in the bloodstream. 4-6
    2 Driving under the influence of drugs. 6
    3 Refusing to give an alcohol or drugs test. 6
    4 Driving recklessly, in the opposite direction or participating in illegal races. 6
    5 Driving with equipment installed that prohibits traffic surveillance and radar detection. 6
    6 Exceeding by 50% the time permitted to drive or taking less than 50% of the time for a rest as defined in the legislation for road transport vehicles. 6
    7 Altering the tachometer or the speed restriction of a vehicle. 6
    8 Driving without the appropriate category of licence. 4
    9 Throwing objects into the road that could cause a fire, an accident or block traffic circulation. 4
    10 Not respecting Stop, give way signs or traffic lights on red. 4
    11 Improper overtaking. 4
    12 Overtaking and putting cyclists in danger. 4
    13 Changing direction where prohibited. 4
    14 Reversing on a motorway or dual carriageway. 4
    15 Not respecting the instructions from a policeman directing traffic. 4
    16 Not maintaining a safe distance behind the vehicle in front. 4
    17 Driving whilst using the mobile telephone, programming your Sat Nav, using headphones or other devices that may reduce your attention. 3
    18 Driving without your seatbelt, or without appropriate systems of retention for children. 3
    19 Driving whilst your licence is suspended or prohibited to use this type of vehicle 4

    No Parking in Spain

    no parking car insurance spain

    Despite what you might see, especially in some smaller towns, there are rules for parking in Spain and a series of signs and road markings to help you avoid getting it wrong. Fines are high and the inconvenience of marching from one building to another to settle up with the police and then the compound will ruin your day.

    You will often see people double parked, hazard lights on whilst they drop the children off at school, visit the cigarette shop or in some rare cases actually sit in a nearby restaurant and have dinner. As you would expect this is illegal, as is parking on a zebra crossing or too close to a junction.

    There are a Parking car insurance spainnumber of road markings and signage that help you understand where you can park in Spain. Here we will attempt to point out some of those rules to help you avoid unnecessary traffic fines in Spain or perhaps worse having your car towed away to the municipal compound.

    Let’s start with some basics. A large white letter “P” on a blue background or a variation is pretty common worldwide and means you can park your vehicle. You may be asked to park side by side with either the nose of the vehicle or the rear of the vehicle up against the kerb. This is known as “estacionamiento en bateria”.

    The alternative is “estacionamiento en linea” where you park with the nose of your vehicle behind the rear of the car in front.

    However what about the signs below? What do they mean?

    A round sign with a red border, blue background and a red cross (fig.1) means that you cannot park. It also means you can’t stop and drop someone off or pick someone up.

    The version with just one red line also means you cannot park but you can drop someone off or pick someone up (fig. 2).

    These signs can be accompanied by an array of words or numbers which alter the meaning. For example, if it has what looks like a capital letter “I” in the middle then means that you cannot park in this area on odd days (fig.3). If the sign has what looks like the capital letter “I” twice then you cannot park on even number days. So if it is the first of January you cannot park on a street with the sign shown in fig.3. However, you could park there on the second or the fourth or sixth.

    There are other variations on this theme. You might see “Mes Par” written on the sign in white writing (fig.4). This means that you cannot park in the zone when a month is an even number, that would be February, April, June etc.. Alternatively if it says “Mes Impar” (fig. 5) then that indicates no parking in January, March, May etc. Fig. 9  tells you that you cannot park in the zone from the 15th to the 31st of the month. Maybe there is one on the other side of the road marked “1-14”.

    Other signage indicates that you cannot park in a zone on certain days, between certain hours. This sign (fig. 6) indicates that you cannot park to the left of it between 08:00 and 14:00 or between 16:30 and 20:30 on working days, unless you are loading or unloading. So, you can park in this area on Saturday or Sunday or public holidays. You can also park here at 21:00 at night or at 15:00 in the afternoon.

    I cannot speak for all of Spain but the sign shown in fig. 7 has become prevalent in the area where I live. This sign is restricting where you can park your scooter or motorbike. It is usually put at the entrance to a street and states that scooters, mopeds and motorbikes can only be parked in designated zones. That means you cannot park them anywhere else in the street. If you choose to ignore it and park in the street outside of the designated zone you could be fined and/or towed away. The designated zones for these vehicles are usually painted with white lines or yellow lines. The word “moto” is also painted on the ground.

    The “prohibido estacionar or vado” (fig. 8 click on the image to see full size) are often erected outside the entrances to car parks underneath blocks of flats, entrances to businesses or private garages. They are purchased from the local town hall. Basically, they give the owner of the sign the right to call the police and have your vehicle towed away if you are blocking their entrance.

    In Spain a single solid yellow line near the kerb also means no parking.

    There are other road markings that will help you stay the right side of the parking laws. Parking bays painted with white paint usually mean that the parking is unrestricted. If the bays are painted with blue paint then there is normally a limit to how long you can park and/or there may be a fee to pay in the nearby parking meter to. If you exceed your time in the blue parking zone you may be fined. The penalty can be settled immediately, using the same machine you bought your ticket at. This will result in a reduced fine and is far more convenient. The ticket machine will have an option to pay the fine.

    Traffic fines in Spain

    traffic finses in spain

    Appealing against traffic fines in Spain.

    You can also appeal against the fine you have received. However, if you pay a fine promptly you receive a 50% discount. If you decide to contest the fine and lose you will also lose the right to the 50% discount and will have to pay the full amount.

    If you wish to provide evidence against the fine this must be done within 20 days after receiving the notification.

    What do you do if you receive traffic fines in Spain but you weren’t the driver?

    Assuming you don’t want to be held responsible for the offence and fine then you will need to provide the details of the driver of your vehicle to the authorities.

    There is a list of necessary information you will need to provide to the authorities about the driver of your vehicle. You must provide this within 20 days of receiving the notification of the traffic offence.

    You can send your response in writing either by fax or post. More details on this and the contact address and fax number can be found here.

    How do I pay traffic fines in Spain.

    You can pay the fine a traffic fine on the government website by credit or debit card. Alternatively, you can send a bank transfer. Details on how to pay a traffic fine in Spain can be found here. The credit card payment can be made here.

    It is also possible to pay the fine in person at one of the Provincial Traffic department offices or in cash at Caixabank in Spain. If using the bank please make sure the correct and full reference details etc are included in the payment.