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The DGT is planning to implement a significant change to how people are protected in the event of their vehicle becoming immobilised on the road, by replacing the mandatory requirement for warning triangles with emergency lights.

Concern has been growing over the number of deaths on the roads, and an increase in the number of incidents following a continual decline which has now started to grow once again. One sector which had not been looked at previously is the number of deaths and injuries to people who are in the process of protecting their vehicles after they have become immobilised, such as when they have broken down and the driver has set about placing warning triangles on the road.

In 2018, according to the data from the DGT, “more than 20 people died on roads and motorways as a result of this type of incident”. In 2018 the number of people killed on motorways, for example, increased from 208 to 303, of which 20% were pedestrians.

Therefore, in order to offer better protection, the DGT proposes the replacement of the mandatory warning triangles, of which a vehicle must currently carry two, with illuminated devices that can be seen from a greater distance and at all times of day and night.

The main reason for this measure is the danger it entails for people having to get out off the vehicle to place the warning triangles on the road, having had to walk at least 50 metres in the face of oncoming traffic to do so, and possibly another 50 metres towards the front of their immobilises vehicle.

The proposal, if it becomes law, and if it does it would not be until 2025, would alter the protocol for dealing with a broken down vehicle, and so in the event of a vehicle becoming immobilised the device could be immediately placed on the uppermost part of the vehicle, where it is most visible.

“Today the user has to leave the vehicle and go to place the triangle, it is at that moment when people become vulnerable, so we think it is more appropriate to remain in the vehicle replacing that pre-signalling by another,” said Ana Blanco, Assistant Deputy Director of the DGT, explaining how in the United Kingdom, it is prohibited to place triangles on the motorway.

Ana Blanco has said that the DGT has affirmed that this proposal for regulation has contemplated a term of 5 years in which the triangle is progressively replaced by another means of light signalling. Currently, the regulation only recommends the use of an additional luminous device (flashing amber beacon) as an optional element, in addition to hazard lights and the warning triangle.

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