The Spanish Government has approved a package of legal reforms that, as a whole, substantially modify road traffic legislation with the objective of generating a new model of road safety aligned with the policy of the European Union and the recommendations of the World Health Organization to reduce, over the next decade, the number of deaths and serious injuries caused by road traffic incidents by 50 percent.

30 speed signal

The changes include the draft law relating to driving licences and, in particular, the points lost for behaviours considered to be the greatest risk to road safety, and promotes the mechanism of safe driving courses as a formula to improve road training for drivers.

The ultimate objective of the preliminary draft is to increase safe behaviour at the wheel, for which it includes, among others, the following measures:

Increase from 3 to 6 the points to be deducted for driving while holding mobile phone devices.

Increase from 3 to 4 points deducted for not using the seat belt, child restraint systems, helmet, and other protective elements. In addition, it explicitly incorporates the misuse of these elements as a cause of sanction (for example, wearing a safety helmet or seat belt without fastening it) because the negative consequences for the driver’s safety are the same.

It classifies as a serious offense “carrying in the vehicle” radar or cinemometer detection mechanisms, which will result in a penalty of 200 euro and the loss of 3 points. At present, only the use of these devices while driving is sanctioned, but experience has shown that, before a road control, drivers deactivate them to prevent traffic agents from being able to prove their use, so once the reform commences the mere possession is sanctionable.

The reform eliminates the possibility that cars and motorcycles may exceed the speed limits on conventional roads by 20 kilometres per hour when overtaking another vehicle. The abolition of this measure, which had already been eliminated in the rest of the countries of the European Union, reinforces the message that the overtaking manoeuvre carries a risk of frontal collision.

The reform also introduces the possibility of recovering 2 points of the licence for the completion of the safe driving courses certified by the General Directorate of Traffic. A ministerial order will develop the necessary requirements and the conditions that must be met.

The reform unifies in two years the period that will have to pass without committing infractions to recover the initial balance of points, a period that now varies depending on the seriousness of the infraction committed.

It includes a new “very serious” offence, committing driving test fraud using unauthorised intercom devices. The penalty will be 500 euro and a penalty of 6 months without being able to attend the exam.

On-line access to the driver registry is provided for companies that transport people and goods so that they can find out if their workers’ driving licence is valid or not. It will only be reported in red or green depending on whether it is current or not.

The draft, which has already passed the consultation and public information process, has also been reported by the Higher Council for Traffic, Road Safety and Sustainable Mobility; the Office of Coordination and Regulatory Quality; the Spanish Data Protection Agency, and the current Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda.

After its approval in the first round by the Council of Ministers, the draft must now be informed by the Ministries of Finance, Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, Labour and Social Economy and Territorial Policy and Public Function.

Secondly, the Council of Ministers has approved a royal decree that modifies both the General Traffic Regulations and the General Vehicle Regulations regarding urban traffic regulatory measures. The purpose of this text is to reduce the accident rate in the urban area while regulating the new emerging forms of citizen mobility.

The Royal Decree redefines the general speed limits on urban roads (article 50) based on their different classification:

On roads that have a single carriageway and pavement platform, the limit will be 20 kilometres per hour.

On roads with a single lane in each direction of traffic, the limit will be 30 kilometres per hour.

On roads with two or more lanes per direction of traffic, the limit will remain at 50 kilometres per hour.

These limits will not apply until six months after the publication of this project in the Official State Gazette, so that citizens are adequately aware of them and so that public administrations have sufficient time to adapt the signage.

Personal mobility

The second major area of ​​incidence of this Royal Decree is the regulation of personal mobility vehicles, defined as vehicles with one or more wheels equipped with a single seat and powered exclusively by electric motors that can provide the vehicle with a maximum speed of between 6 and 25 kilometres per hour.

This definition, which excludes vehicles for people with reduced mobility, means that their movement on pavements and in pedestrian areas is prohibited. They will have to comply with traffic regulations like other vehicles and their circulation on interurban roads, crossings, as well as highways that pass within the town or in urban tunnels is also prohibited.

In order to circulate, personal mobility vehicles must have the corresponding certificate of circulation that certifies that they comply with the technical requirements contemplated in the characteristics manual that will be approved by resolution of the General Director of Traffic.

Access to the driving licence

Finally, the Council of Ministers has approved a royal decree that reforms the General Regulations for Drivers to partially incorporate Directive (EU) 2018/645 of the European Parliament and of the Council, of April 18 of 2018, on the initial qualification and continuous training of drivers of vehicles intended for the transport of goods or passengers by road, and Directive 2006/126 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 20 December, on the Driver’s Licence.

Its main points are:

The minimum age required to drive trucks is reduced to 18 years after having passed the 280-hour Professional Aptitude Certificate (CAP). Until now the established age was 21 years.

The minimum age required to drive coaches is also reduced to 18 years, but only without passengers and within a maximum radius of 50 km. It will only be from the age of 21 and with the CAP of 280 hours when they will be able to carry passengers.

Both modifications respond to the adequacy of the age for obtaining the driving licence with the established age at which the CAP can be taken. In addition, it is a request made by the road transport sector due to the shortage of professional drivers and opens the possibility for young people to access the labour market.

It increases from 3,500 kg to 4,250 kg the weight of vans that can be driven in national territory with the B permit for the transport of goods, only when the increase in mass is due to the new propulsion systems. It is a measure that favours the use of non-polluting alternative fuels.

The Royal Decree also introduces some improvements in the training tests necessary to obtain a driving licence. Among other:

It specifies the mandatory protective equipment that applicants have to wear in the skills and driving tests to obtain motorcycle licences.

It establishes the possibility that, in certain cases and after an individualised medical and mechanical assessment, access to truck and bus driving licences can be authorised for people with problems associated with the locomotor system. Advances in prosthetics and vehicles make it possible for these people to obtain such permits.

Entries into force

The modifications related to the Traffic Regulations and Vehicles will enter into force on January 2, 2021. However, the amendment to article 50 of the General Traffic Regulations (speeds in urban areas) will enter into force six months after its publication in the Official State Gazette so that citizens know them adequately and so that public administrations have enough time to adapt the signage.

The obligation to have a certificate for circulation and its identification, in accordance with the provisions of the Manual of characteristics of personal mobility vehicles, will be applicable 24 months after the publication of the manual of characteristics of personal mobility vehicles in the Official State Gazette, as established in the sole transitory provision. Transitory Regime of the Royal Decree.

The modifications related to the Drivers Regulation will come into force the day after the publication of the Royal Decree in the BOE.

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