During the course of the summer months of July and August, the roads of Spain are expected to carry some 84 million vehicles, 3.5% more than the movements that occurred last summer.
As usual, the busiest periods, and therefore the major traffic plans, are split into a number of operations around the main weekends. The first operation took place during the first weekend of July when 4,050,000 long haul journeys took place, with the main flow of traffic heading away from inland and city areas to the coast and mountainous regions.
Typically, domestic tourists take a two week break from their usual working lives, and so the busiest rimes are ordinarily based around this, starting with the first influx from inland to the coast and mountains, then they return two weeks later as the next batch arrive, and so on, with August typically the busiest month of all. Across the two months, forecasts are for 41 million trips in July and 43 million by August.
In order to keep traffic flowing, the DGT will deploy around 10,000 officers and agents on the ground, including the Guardia Civil Trafico and DGT staff, specialised technicians, conservationists and the emergency coordination teams.
In order to reduce incidents on the roads, 300 sections which have been identified as the most dangerous will be displaying signs warning drivers, and for them to be aware and alert of the factors of the road and the speed of their vehicles. These sections will also be under more surveillance by enforcement officers during the entire campaign.
The DGT has spent a million euro on new mobile cameras which can be carried by traffic police on their motorcycles. These cameras can be placed on a tripod by the side of the road and can be used to create speed check zones at some of the places where conventional radar cars my have posed problems. These new cameras also mean that speed detection zones can be set up at multiple locations along the same route, whereas conventionally the normal practice was for one radar car to cover an entire section of road.
Surveillance by the airborne monitoring Pegasus equipped helicopters will increase. In the first five months of the year 106 people have lost their lives on motorways or highways compared to 70 at the same time last year. Therefore, Pegasus will pay close attention to problems on this type of road, including speeding, maintaining a safe distance, seatbelt use and using a mobile phone.
There will also be three intensified operations during the summer period. The first one aims to monitor the condition of vehicles on our roads. The risk of dying or suffering an injury with hospitalization increases with the age of the vehicle, which is why an increased maintenance schedule is crucial. This campaign will take place from the 11th to the 17th of July.
Coinciding with the fiestas surrounding the 15th of August, and the increase in festivals throughout the country, an intensified campaign monitoring for alcohol and drug use will take place. These checks will be at any time of day and on any roads.
During the week commencing the 22nd of August there will be an increase in checks on speeding vehicles. This will be done using all available equipment and resources to try to clampdown on those who break the law by speeding.
In order to ease congestion, most major road works will be suspended and there will be restrictions on the movement of certain types of goods. Extra lanes will be created in the busiest areas and the Guardia Civil traffic police will be out in force to ensure the safe flow of vehicles.
The advice, as always, is to try to avoid the busiest times, allow extra time for your journey, stay calm and adhere to the laws of the road at all times.
Characteristics of Summer Traffic
Summer traffic has different characteristics to that at other times of year and that must be taken into account:
- Increased number of long haul journeys on both business days and especially on weekends.
- Less conflict in the access to large urban areas during peak hours of business days in the entrance and exit to the workplace.
- Increased vehicle traffic on secondary roads.
- Intense traffic on roads linking coastal towns and tourist areas of coastline with beaches every day of the week.
- Increased presence of cyclists and pedestrians on the road.
- Increased movement throughout the road network of foreign registered vehicles.
- Increase in the number of sports that use the road for which additional supplementary measures will be in place.
In addition to domestic tourists traveling to coastal areas, keep in mind that Spain is a country of transit for millions of citizens from other European countries who return to their home countries in places such as Africa. Many of them choose Spain as a route to their destination, which is why the government also implemented a special campaign “Paso del Estrecho” from June. More than 600,000 car journeys by road will cross the peninsula.
Add to that the number of international tourists who choose Spain as their holiday destination, some of whom drive to the country, others who hire a vehicle when they arrive.
The combination of the three factors of domestic tourists, those passing through the country, and those who may not be used to driving on these roads, especially when it is one of the busiest times of year, all lead to potential problems.
Patience and planning are key, always driving within the rules and laws and allowing extra time for your journey wherever you go are all vital.