Increase in drones to monitor traffic in Spain

drones to monitor traffic in Spain

The General Directorate of Traffic has finalized the distribution throughout the Spanish territory of the 39 surveillance drones -28 more than in 2020. The drones will be used to support the twelve traffic helicopters used by the traffic section of the Guardia civil.

In May 2018 the drones began to be used in test mode and since August 2019 they have been used for the surveillance and detection of traffic infractions.

The drones are intended for the detection of reckless behavior on the roads and the surveillance of traffic in those sections of high risk of accidents. Additionally, they will be positioned on roads with a greater traffic of vulnerable users, in particular cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians.

They will also be used to monitor and support regulation in operations and special events in which a high number of road movements are concentrated. They could also be used for ordinary regulatory missions complementary to those carried out by helicopters; and to support emergencies.

Drone and traffic fines in Spain
drones to monitor traffic in Spain

The DGT has trained 35 personnel in piloting the drones and 60 personnel in handling the cameras that these systems integrate. The General Directorate of Traffic is accredited by the State Agency for Aviation Safety as an operator of remotely piloted aircraft systems. Likewise, the DGT helicopter unit is a pilot training organization for the issuance of basic and advanced certificates for piloting drones.

How do they work ?

The operation of these drones is carried out by a pilot, who is in charge of handling the flight controls, and an operator who maneuvers the camera.

The infraction captured by drones may be notified immediately by an agent of the Traffic Group of the Civil Guard or be processed later by the competent authorities. 

The 39 drones will be distributed throughout the country, except the Basque Country and Catalonia.

Each DGT helicopter patrol based in A Coruña, Zaragoza, Valladolid, Seville, Malaga and Valencia will have two drones to carry out operations in their local area of ​​influence. The central base in Madrid will have 15 aircraft that, in addition to flying over the roads of the Community of Madrid and Castilla la Mancha, will provide support to the rest of the provinces of the national territory that need it.

For their part, Cantabria, Asturias and Extremadura will have two drones per area; and the island areas of the Balearic and Canary Islands, with three units each.

History of drones and traffic infractions in Spain

Since the start of the drone traffic surveillance activity in 2018, the DGT has accumulated 500 flight hours with these systems, has monitored more than 55,000 vehicles and has detected more than 600 infractions. It has become one of the most effective means of detecting the use of mobile telephones behind the wheel (they represent 12.5% ​​of the total infractions detected), the incorrect use of seat belts and child restraint systems (15, 9%), and overtaking cyclists without respecting the minimum safety distances (4%).

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. (11 May 2021). 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.

Notification of a fixed traffic camera in Spain is legal

Notification of a fixed traffic camera in Spain is legal

Many people use applications such as google maps, sat navs or similar to help them when they are driving. A lot of these provide a warning when approaching a traffic camera. There is some confusion about whether this is legal or not.

The notification of a fixed traffic camera in Spain is legal.

In fact, the DGT publish a list of where you can find out where all the fixed traffic cameras are located throughout Spain. The officials charged with road safety also use mobile traffic cameras and their exact location is not published. Mobile cameras will not feature on applications such as google maps.

What is not legal are devices that block the radar and stop it functioning. The use of such a device could lead to a fine of up to 6,000 euros and a loss of 6 points from your licence.

Devices that detect nearby radars are also illegal. These devices carry a fine of 200 euros plus a loss of 3 points from your licence.

However, a device that advises you from a database that there is a fixed radar ahead, such as google maps or sat navs are not illegal on Spanish roads.

Traffic fines are notified by post. For some people the postal service is not reliable. If you want to guarantee notification of a traffic fine then you could join a growing number of people who contract an automatic notification of a traffic fine product.

How has driving in Spain improved in the last 40 years?

This year Spain celebrates the 40th year of its constitution and the Directorate General de Trafico (DGT) has been looking back over that period at the evolution in numbers of traffic and how road deaths have fallen.

In 1978 the new constitution for the country was approved. That same year 6,967 people died on Spanish roads.  The number fell significantly when the wearing of a helmet on a motorcycle was made legally compulsory in 1982. However, that improvement disappeared as by 1989, the worse year on record, road deaths had reached 9,344.

In 2017 the figure was down by 83% to 1,830 but the DGT is not content. It has been running a campaign for a while now with the aim of reducing the number of deaths to zero. Is it realistic? It is an honourable objective and if not possible, if the authorities are aiming for that figure then surely we will see further improvements.

Over the years a number of factors have helped reduced road deaths. The authorities made ABS braking system compulsory on cars. They set up a commission  to specifically look at road safety. Points were added to driving licences and taken away for infractions, which perhaps surprisingly only started in 2006. Tougher penalties are in place for speeding.

In 1978 there were just under 9 million vehicles on Spain’s roads. By the end of 2017, this had grown to almost 33 million. Whilst last year saw a small increase in the number of road deaths the drop of 83% over this time is still quite an achievement bearing in mind the huge increase in the fleet of vehicles on the roads.

Perhaps one factor that may have contributed to the small rise in deaths is the age of the vehicles. In 2005 the average age of vehicles on Spanish roads was just 6.7 years. In 2007 the economic crash hit Spain and it hit hard. Many people haven’t seen any real growth in their income since then and the average age of vehicles has risen to 10.8 years. Newer vehicles have better safety features. However, many ordinary motorists are not able to take advantage of those.

Speeding is still the main road traffic infraction but surprisingly not wearing a seat belt also features highly, even nowadays.

Vehicle manufacturers and Government can introduce measures and police them but ultimately we all have a responsibility to ourselves, our families and other road users to use our common sense.

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:

DescriptionPoints lost
1Driving with excess alcohol in the bloodstream.4-6
2Driving under the influence of drugs.6
3Refusing to give an alcohol or drugs test.6
4Driving recklessly, in the opposite direction or participating in illegal races.6
5Driving with equipment installed that prohibits traffic surveillance and radar detection.6
6Exceeding 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
7Altering the tachometer or the speed restriction of a vehicle.6
8Driving without the appropriate category of licence.4
9Throwing objects into the road that could cause a fire, an accident or block traffic circulation.4
10Not respecting Stop, give way signs or traffic lights on red.4
11Improper overtaking.4
12Overtaking and putting cyclists in danger.4
13Changing direction where prohibited.4
14Reversing on a motorway or dual carriageway.4
15Not respecting the instructions from a policeman directing traffic.4
16Not maintaining a safe distance behind the vehicle in front.4
17Driving whilst using the mobile telephone, programming your Sat Nav, using headphones or other devices that may reduce your attention.3
18Driving without your seatbelt, or without appropriate systems of retention for children.3
19Driving whilst your licence is suspended or prohibited to use this type of vehicle4