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Urban Speed Limit Changed in Spain - Photo guide
Wednesday, May 12, 2021 @ 12:38 PM

Watch your speed when driving anywhere in Spain from today (Tuesday) – more than you usually do – since new, lower limits have come into force.

Single-carriageway streets through towns or residential areas have now dropped to 30 kilometres per hour (18.6mph), down from 50 kilometres per hour (31mph), and when the road surface and pavement are on the same level – as is increasingly the case in neighbourhoods that have been given a full refurbishment in the last 20 years or so – the limit drops to 20 kilometres per hour (12.4mph).

The previous 50-kilometre limit now only applies to roads through built-up areas which are at least dual carriageways, although for heavy goods vehicles and those carrying hazardous loads, this reduces to 40 kilometres per hour (24.9mph).

'Lanes' are defined as those designed for all road users and motor vehicles, meaning the presence of a bus lane or taxi lane does not make a road into a dual carriageway.

Given that up to 80% of roads within municipal boundaries are 'town' roads, or through built-up areas, the impact is very widespread, since the only driving it does not affect is that which takes place between towns, through countryside areas, and on motorways. 

In fact, the 50-kilometre limits on dual-lane roads through built-up areas can be decreased if the local council decides to do so, provided it is part of the local authority network.

Town councils 'own' roads within their municipalities, but inter-provincial highways – those beginning with 'N' – come within the jurisdiction of the provincial government, or Diputación, which mainly exists to distribute funding for major works on infrastructure that falls within its 'property'.

An autopista, or motorway, is State-run, but often managed by franchise firms who charge a toll to cover their maintenance; an autovía, which looks exactly like a motorway – complete with blue signs instead of black on white, and can normally only be told apart by the placards 'reminding' drivers which road they are on – is also State-run, but funded by car-owners' taxes.


Worst accidents are on secondary roads, but 30-kilometre limit drastically reduces death rate

Despite being fast-moving, with a speed limit of 120 kilometres per hour (74.6mph) – sometimes dropping in parts to 100 or 110 kilometres per hour (62 or 68.4mph) – only a very small percentage, typically about 2%, of fatal crashes happen on motorways, either autopistas or autovías.

The vast majority, over three-quarters of crash deaths happen on secondary roads.

According to the most recent full-year figures, from 2019, a total of 519 people were killed by vehicles on town roads, of whom 83% were considered 'especially vulnerable', defined as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

That year, the number of accident deaths in towns rose by 6%, but the number of fatalities on inter-town roads fell by 6%.

Interior minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska says if someone on foot or on a bike is knocked over by a car travelling at 50 kilometres per hour, the probability of their not surviving is around 80-90%, but at 30 kilometres per hour, this probability shrinks to 10%.

Below 30 kilometres per hour, the chances of injury still exist, but the likelihood of death is minimal.

Marlaska, additionally, points out that the braking distance at 30 kilometres per hour is half that of a car travelling at 50 kilometres per hour.

He believes the speed limit cut, as well as reducing fatal accidents, will also bring down congestion and air pollution, but does not say how this will be the case.


Loss of points and fines according to severity of speeding offences

Fines for breaking the speed limits start at €100 – on 30-kilometre roads, driving at above the limit up to and including 50 kilometres per hour will attract the minimum fine; travelling at between 50 and 60 kilometres per hour in a 30-kilometre limit will cost the offender €300 and two licence points; up to 70 kilometres per hour will be subject to a fine of €400 and four points, and up to 80 kilometres will mean a €500 fine and the loss of six points.

Speeds of 50 kilometres or more above the limit will mean a €600 fine and the loss of six licence points.

In Spain, driving licences start off with 12 points and these are reduced for offences, with a ban occurring once the points total is reduced to zero – the opposite to the UK, where a clean licence has no points, these are added on for offences, and 12 points invalidates the licence and means an automatic prohibition.

'Extreme' cases of breaking the speed limit, such as driving at more than 60 kilometres per hour over the 30-kilometre cap – travelling at 90 kilometres per hour in a 30-kilometre limit – falls into 'criminal' territory under Article 379 of the Penal Code, and can be punished by a daily fine of six to 12 months, or 31 to 90 days' community service, or a prison sentence of three to six months, although if the driver has no previous convictions, custodial sentences of under two years are automatically suspended.

Whichever of these sanctions is levied, the offender will also face a driving ban – which covers motorcycles as well as cars – of at least one but not more than four years.

[source :]


For those who understand better with visual stimulus here is what it looked like before and what it will be like now:




Like 3


Tbone said:
Saturday, May 15, 2021 @ 11:14 AM

Great job, the working people of Spain have suffered enough economically after more than a year of Covid. So the government decides to hit us for more money? This is clearly an effort to collect from the government. The speed levels are ridiculous. Are these new speed limits effective in Andalusia as well? Usually they are more practical and actually appear to care about their citizens...

Astronautilus said:
Saturday, May 15, 2021 @ 4:07 PM

This just hasn't been thought through. I don't know how many lives these measures are designed to save, but I wonder if they've factored in the health effects of the extra urban air pollution from people crawling along in 2nd gear?

Similarly, whilst other countries are acknowledging the looming climate crisis, shouldn't Spain be concerned with reducing greenhouse gases rather than increasing them?

dunworkin said:
Sunday, May 16, 2021 @ 7:04 PM

I always reckoned 50 kph in urban areas was too fast. I look forward to the day when kids on patinetes are also made to be responsible for ensuring public safety.

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