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This week, the DGT is running a special campaign on secondary roads, the location of the majority of fatal and serious incidents in Spain, which focussed on the main contributing factor to road traffic collisions, inappropriate speed, driving too close, alcohol and drugs, and not wearing a seat belt or using a mobile phone.

It is the latter two problems that the new director general of the DGT, Pere Navarro, is increasingly concerned about, as both factors seem to be spiralling out of control. At the  Forum for Sustainable Urban Mobility in Bilbao, he said, “We must avoid the feeling of impunity and the laws must be complied with.”

To try to turn the social acceptance of using a mobile or not wearing a seat belt, the DGT has reverted back to harder hitting advertising campaigns, showing the reality of how grave incidents can be, and the aftermath that the families and friends of those who have been killed or seriously injured have to cope with, all innocent victims of the phenomena.

An extra piece of equipment being considered by the DGT to try and combat the problem takes a leaf out of the book of the UK traffic police, with the introduction of trucks and unmarked vans travelling on the road network looking out, particularly, for drivers using a mobile or vehicle occupants not wearing a seat belt.

The elevated position of the driver in these vehicles offers a point of view not available in a car, as it is much easier to see what is happening when looking down, a situation proven by the Pegasus equipped helicopters and the newly tested drones. Moreover, these vehicles often go unnoticed by those drivers committing the offences, and so enforcement can be easier, thus halting the menace.

In the UK, this form of surveillance has been active for two years and has already shown its effectiveness, with more than 4,000 sanctions being imposed on distracted drivers. The majority of those sanctions, two thirds of the total, are for mobile phone use, but other behaviours have also been detected, such as applying makeup, eating or rolling cigarettes.

As revealed by the balance from the DGT for 2017, distracted driving accounted for 32% of the causes of fatal incidents, ranking first over inadequate speed (26%) or alcohol consumption (12%).

It is believed that two vehicles are currently operating on the roads of Spain, and a currently under test conditions in order to evaluate the possibility of mass introduction, but if the success of the UK is anything to go by, this will prove to be a valuable addition to the arsenal of weapons which are constantly increasing to try to keep us all a little safer on the roads.

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