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Driver distractions with automatic fines: New traffic authority campaign
Friday, October 20, 2023 @ 9:39 AM

EVERY now and again, Spain's traffic authority launches a campaign to remind drivers of what they should and should not be doing, or to answer common questions – such as, can drivers be fined if passengers do not wear a seatbelt? which has been the subject of much confusion over time. Or what those new 'dragon's teeth' and zig-zag road markings mean.

Where specific, serious offences are becoming too commonplace, the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT), part of the ministry of transport, launches extremely hard-hitting campaigns – sometimes on the radio or, more upsettingly, online, where the full graphic impact is on view. Much as everyone hates to see them, the DGT points out that, if these devastating images save just one life through drivers rethinking their behaviour, they have served their purpose.

For more general driving matters, frequently-asked questions, common misconceptions and ongoing doubts, another great source of information is the Guardia Civil's traffic Facebook fact page, 'N-332'. Named after the inter-provincial highway which runs from Valencia to Almería, this social media site has gathered a huge following, and users can post any motoring queries they need an answer to.

The most recent DGT awareness campaign covers distractions behind the wheel. Traffic boss Pere Navarro stresses that seemingly harmless actions, where they involve taking your attention off the road for just a second or two, are among the main causes of serious crashes involving major injury or worse.

And some distraction-causing behaviour is subject to a hefty fine and loss of licence points, even if they are not creating a danger at that moment.

Here are some of the most common, Navarro says.


Using a mobile phone

This is nothing new, and should be common knowledge, but the DGT reveals that mobile phone use whilst driving is getting more frequent, not less so.

Making or taking calls – even on hands-free mode, in Spain – sending messages, or consulting the sat-nav function all dramatically increase accident risk, and Navarro's department is clamping down hard.

Mobile phone use among drivers is increasing, says the DGT (photo: Movístar)

Even having your mobile in your hand whilst driving, whether or not you are using it, may be considered a serious offence, and if you pull up on the roadside to take a call, turn your engine off. Where your car is still running, you are deemed to be 'driving' – largely because the temptation to move on again is much greater if you do not have to restart your car.

Drivers caught using a mobile for any purpose will automatically lose six licence points – 50% of the total – and be fined €200.


Putting your makeup on

In these days of constant rushing, stress and never having enough time, it can be tempting to just fling on your clothes and finish the rest of your morning routine whilst on your way to work. Navarro says it is very common to see motorists taking advantage of red traffic lights and gridlocks to 'put their face on', but that 'endless accidents' have been caused as a result – moving off whilst in the middle of doing one's makeup, or not moving on when the lights go green, causing rear shunts.



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