The General Directorate of Traffic has finalised the distribution throughout the Spanish territory of the 39 surveillance drones -28 more than in 2020- which will be based at the air units and / or in the traffic sectors of the Guardia Civil to support the action of the twelve traffic helicopters.

Coinciding with this deployment, the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, attended a demonstration at the DGT headquarters of the operation of these devices, of Spanish manufacture and technology, which made Spain a pioneer country in their use in traffic functions. In May 2018 the drones began to be used in test mode and since August 2019 they are used for the surveillance and detection of infractions.

Drones are designed to detect reckless driving behaviour and to monitor traffic in those sections with a high risk of accidents and on roads with a higher traffic of vulnerable users, in particular cyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians.

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They are also used to monitor and support regulation in operations and special events in which a high number of road movements are concentrated; for ordinary regulatory missions complementary to those carried out by helicopters; and to support emergency situations that, due to their severity, significantly affect the circulation and safety of road users.

The DGT has trained 35 personnel in the piloting of this type of aircraft and 60 personnel in the handling of 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 organisation for the issuance of basic and advanced certificates for piloting drones.

How do they work?

The commissioning of these aircraft is carried out by a pilot, who is in charge of handling the flight controls, and an operator who operates the camera, both functions that can be carried out both by personnel from the General Directorate of traffic and by officers of the Guardia Civil Traffic Group, after obtaining the required certificate.

The infraction captured by drones may be notified immediately by an agent of the Traffic Group of the Guardia Civil or be processed later by the competent authorities. All sanctions will have the corresponding frame with the evidence of the offence committed by the driver.

The 39 drones will be distributed throughout the geography, except the Basque Country and Catalonia, communities with the transferred powers.

Each DGT helicopter patrol based in A Coruña, Zaragoza, Valladolid, Seville, Malaga and Valencia will have two drones to carry out missions in their local environment and area of ​​influence (neighbouring communities). 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.

They all work at a height of 120 meters and their propellers allow them to reach 80km / h. They can withstand temperatures between 20 and 45 degrees.

They have an autonomy of up to 40 minutes, a period after which the battery is changed and they can resume flight immediately. Although the range of action of the DGT drones can reach 10 km, currently the Air Media Unit maintains a line of sight in all of them that goes between one and two kilometres.

Pioneers in use for traffic offenses

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 telephony behind the wheel (they represent 12.5% ​​of the total infractions detected with RPAS), the incorrect use of seat belts and child restraint systems (15, 9%), and overtaking cyclists without respecting the minimum safety distances (4%).

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