N332 May 2017

Cyclists Test Positive for Alcohol

Startling statistics produced by the Madrid Municipal Police have revealed that during their campaigns to test for cyclists who have consumed alcohol, one in four tested positive. The tests were carried out for various reasons;

599 were carried out in checkpoints, 43 after the cyclist was involved in a traffic accident and 17 for committing some other type of offence on the road. 4 cyclists refused to carry out the test.

The most commonly reported case is that of young people who are returning home after a night of partying, in which they have consumed alcohol and they decide to cycle home rather than drive their car. Although they may well believe they are acting responsibly by doing so, a bicycle is still a vehicle and can still have fatal consequences if involved in a collision. It is also reported that some of those young people caught using the bicycle knew it was an offence, but thought it more likely they would avoid being stopped on a bike.

Licence Points for Bicycles Proposed

The Spanish Royal Automobile Association, RACE, is proposing the extension of the driving licence points system to cover cyclists.
Whereas some users of other vehicles would welcome the change, often critical of cyclists they consider to act outside of the law, it is unlikely to be welcomed by the cyclist groups themselves, despite the actual motivation being the increase in the number of deaths on Spanish roads of cyclists.

Manuel Martín, spokesperson for cycling group ConBici, has already hit out at the plans. RACE are also attempting to encourage a plan of coexistence on the road for both cars and bicycles, where both users are taken into account. ConBici recalled that cyclists are the victims and that cars are the most dangerous.

RACE pointed out that the points system has proven its usefulness in focussing efforts to reduce incidents and that if it is extended to bicycles, the same focus and attention should be given, especially as at this moment a cyclist can take to the road with no training or awareness of the dangers they might come across.

New Campaign to Discourage Mobile Phone Use

A new campaign has been launched by the DGT, aimed at attempting to raise awareness of the dangers of using a mobile phone. The campaign utilises the popular comedic skills of the comedy group Tricicle, formed of three actors, Joan Gracia, Paco Mir and Carles Sans, in order to deliver the very serious message of the danger of distractions during driving, especially the increasingly frequent use of the mobile phone.

By utilising social media platforms it is hoped that the message will reach as many people as possible, especially as social media users are amongst a growing group who don't realise that the problem is not only in talking to people on the phone; checking Facebook or Twitter on your device is equally dangerous.

A video has been released to accompany the campaign, with the simple message, "At the wheel, don't use your mobile", which is available on various social media accounts already.

Distractions cause 30% of all fatal incidents and at least 500 people die each year in traffic incidents where distraction appears as a concurrent factor. Among the most frequent distractions is the use of the mobile and, despite the danger, 43% of all young people "WhatsApp" whilst driving, according to another survey of more than 6,000 young Europeans.

Part of the campaign is encouraging anybody who witness drivers, or pedestrians crossing the road, to make a hand gesture indicating hanging up the phone.

New Service Looks After the Pets of Injured Owners

It is a continual concern for many pet owners, especially those who live alone with only their beloved animal companion for company, what would happen if an incident resulted in the human being hospitalised because of a traffic collision or serious illness and the animal being left home alone?

Ambulancias Lorca, a professional medical transport service based in Lorca have launched a new service, called AMAR, which promises to look after the animals for free, until the owner is able to return to their home.

In the event of the animal being involved in the traffic incident, they will attend the scene and transport the animal to a safe place, such as a vet or a designated animal hotel. In the more likely scenario of the pet being left home alone, they will arrange access to the property and provide the care needed, for as long as it's needed; all for free. The owner will receive daily updates to their mobile phone of the health and wellbeing of the animal. In the event of the owner passing away as a result of the, the group will also arrange for fostering and adoption of the animal.

The service, which is run by volunteers, but is sadly only available in the area covered by this company, which is around Lorca, Águilas, Puerto Lumbreras, Totana and Aledo.

New Measures to Monitor ITV and Vehicle History

The DGT has announced the creation and propagation of a database of vehicle movements and history, which will then be checkable by future interested parties. This scheme will see cameras installed around the road network and at the entrances and exits of towns and cities, which will record the registration number of vehicles as they pass. The database will also link to the ITV test reports, recording faults or issues and will collate information from traffic incidents, crashes and repairs.

At the moment, when speed detecting radars detect a vehicle, it automatically checks if the ITV has been passed and if it has mandatory insurance in place. Now it will not only be controlled through the radars, but also with the licence plate readers that are installed in the vicinity of the roads and other points of the road network.

When they detect that the vehicle has not passed the ITV or if it went for an inspection and failed, the DGT will automatically send a warning. If, on the second occasion, appropriate action has not been taken, the DGT will automatically issue a fine.

More Rumble Strips Being Installed

The DGT plans to install rumble strips along a further 3,000 kilometres of routes along the side of the road, so that if a vehicle begins to drift off the road, the driver would be alerted by the vibrations from the wheels.

It is estimated that these lines would prevent more than 600 road traffic victims a year on secondary roads, but a number of motorcycle groups say that these rumble strips pose an additional risk to motorcyclists and although they might save the lives of larger vehicle users, there is likely to be an increase in the number of motorbike related incidents as a result.