As one of the busiest periods of the year on Spain´s roads gets underway, the DGT has launched a special operation to ensure the safest and smoothest flow of traffic, as the sharp increase in vehicles offers a potential for delays, incidents and other traffic problems.
The special operation runs from 15:00 on Friday, April 7, until midnight on Monday the 17th, when approximately 14.8 million long-distance journeys are expected.
Unlike other vacation periods, in which the displacements are more staggered, during the Easter period a large number of movements take place in a very short period of time, with origins and similar destinations (tourist areas on the coast and mountain regions and second homes, this time areas of religious interest are also popular, thus generating a higher concentration of vehicles at designated times.
As a result, the operation is divided into two separate phases over the ten-day period. The first phase runs from 15:00 on Friday, 7 April and will end at midnight on Sunday 9 April. During Phase 1, it is anticipated that there will be 3.6 million trips.
The second phase, which is more important than the previous one due to the volume of vehicle movements along the entire road network, will start on Wednesday, April 12, except in the community of Catalonia that will begin the following day. Phase 2 will end at midnight on Monday, April 17, with the return operation that will take place from Saturday afternoon, will last throughout Sunday and Easter Monday, as some areas recognise the Monday as a holiday, such as the Balearics, Catalonia, Comunidad Valenciana, Navarra, Basque Country and La Rioja.
In the rest of the communities, although it is not a festive day, it is a non-school day for schoolchildren and university students, so it is expected that there will also be a significant amount of return movements towards the large urban centres.
As much as possible, if you do have to drive, avoid the busiest periods.
In order to ensure a smoother flow of traffic, there will be a variety of procedures implemented, including the creation of temporary additional lanes in high volume areas, the cancellation of all none essential road works, restricting road closures due to sporting events, and restrictions on the movement of dangerous goods.
In addition, alternative routes will be planned and signposted, offering options to some of the most popular destinations, and ways of avoiding traffic queues. These routes can be seen on the DGT website, dgt.es, where you can also see a live overview of the national traffic situation, and adjust your route plans accordingly.
You can also use the DGT app, available from the Play Store and App Store, which also offers route and traffic information, and you can follow @informacionDGT on Twitter.
Monitoring the Flow
In order to maintain a safer network, all available officers from the Guardia Civil Traffic department will be on duty throughout the entire period, supported by more than 13,000 road workers, 800 technicians, and the support of other emergency services.
In the Spotlight
During this Easter period, traffic officers will be paying close attention to secondary roads, intensifying monitoring for some of the most dangerous practices, including speed, the wearing of seatbelts, the use of mobile phones, alcohol and drugs, illegal and dangerous overtaking, driving too close, and others. In fact, there will be a zero tolerance policy in place for alcohol and drug use, with random checkpoints in place throughout the period, day and night.
Other forces will be assisting in monitoring traffic too, with the DGT providing equipment such as radar cars to local police forces so they can monitor roads for speeding drivers, and have provided more equipment and training for alcohol and drugs checks at a local level.
Remember also that all vehicle occupants must be wearing a seatbelt. If no seatbelt is available, such as in the case of a back seat which only has two seatbelts, then a passenger cannot be carried. One seatbelt per person. Children under 1.35 metres are not allowed in the front seats, and all children must be properly restrained in a seat suitable to their height and weight. Adults must also be properly restrained, wearing the seatbelt correctly.
The officers on the ground will also be supported from the air, with all 12 of the DGT´s helicopters ready to take flight, including the 8 which are equipped with Pegasus monitoring equipment, looking for speeding and dangerous drivers, and for the use of seatbelts and mobile phones.
The new network of monitoring cameras will also be live, now issuing fines to those caught by these new watchful eyes.
Busier than Normal
It is expected that Easter this year will be even busier than previous operations, with an increase in vehicles and movements. There is also advice to consider if you actually need to use the car, and whether public transport might be a better option.
If you are going to take the car, always check the vehicle before any long journey, looking at the lights, tyres, windows and liquids. Plan your journey in advance, allowing plenty of time to reach your destination. Take plenty of breaks on long trips, take your time, stay calm, and enjoy the journey.