Spanish drivers slow down amid Libya oil chaos
07 March 2011 @ 13:02
MADRID (AP) — Spanish drivers slowed down Monday to obey a new speed limit set by the government to reduce energy use amid oil production chaos in Libya that has sent fuel prices soaring in a country hit hard by Europe's financial crisis.
The maximum highway speed limit went from 120 kph (75 mph) to 110 kph (68 mph), and government workers spent the weekend plastering thousands of old speed limit signs with stickers stating the new rule.
Reaction from drivers was mixed. Some cheering the move because it will lower fuel consumption and probably reduce accidents, but others questioned whether the savings justify the imposition of taking longer to get from one point to another.
"I don't know if this is really going to save the money the government thinks it will," taxi driver Jesus Gonzalez said. "And for us it is really uncomfortable to drive at a maximum of 110."
The fine for violating the new rule imposed Monday is euro100 ($140). Drivers who exceed the limit won't be penalized on Spain's new points-based driving licenses. But many may obey because Spaniards are hurting financially, with unemployment of more than 20 percent and grim Spanish economic growth prospects. Drivers will have to go above 150 kph (93 mph) to face penalties affecting their licenses.
Officials said the new speed limit and a host of other energy-saving measures are essential because Spain depends on imports for 75 percent of its energy. The European Union average is 60 percent.
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