Amendments to the road traffic act in Spain have swept through the Spanish government´s Council of Ministers with ease, with changes such as doubling the fines for alcohol and drug related motoring offences, the enforcement of cycle helmets for children in cities and the banning of radar detectors all now being sent to Congress for the next step towards their implementation.

The reform also includes the proposed plans for increasing the maximum permitted speed on some motorways to 130 kilometres per hour, as well as a new table of penalties for speeding. However, the speed limit increase will still have to be approved under other legislative proposals.

Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, the deputy President of the Government of Spain, described these reforms as “important” during the presentation, which included consultations with disabled groups and those representing accident victims.

Francisco Canes, president of the DIA accident victims group applauded the alcohol and drug increases, by saying that they are “one step closer to the expected zero tolerance for driving. No person shall drive after drinking or using such substances. Hopefully, this economic growth will drastically reduce the number of traffic accidents caused by one of two factors”. Meanwhile, the president of Stop Accidentes, Ana Novella, advocated the zero tolerance for alcohol.

Other highlights of the reform is the regulation of drug testing, with penalties of 1,000 euro, with an extension of the legislation taking pedestrians into the equation, with those on foot who commit offenses also being subject to these checks. The current regulations allow such checks to pedestrians, but only under certain conditions, such as when the pedestrian is a victim.

The reform will prohibit the use of radar detectors, with a fine of 200 euro and deduction of 3 points from the driving license. Until now, radar detectors were allowed, but radar inhibitors are banned.

With the wearing of cycle helmets being one of the most controversial subjects, the draft reform includes the mandatory helmet use in towns “in any case for those under 18”, although this obligation could be extended later to all ages under separate legislation.

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