Friday, July 21, 2006

Operación Malaya, la gran telenovela, capitulo tres

Julian Muñoz finally goes to jail. Photo (c) La Razon

Miguel Ángel Torres is at it again. This time he's sent Julian Muñoz to jail without bail.

Muñoz, aged 58 and partner to the singer Isabel Pantoja was arrested Wednesday night for his part in the Operation Malaya scandal, including defrauding public funds.

Remember that Muñoz was also arrested and convicted of corruption charges in 2004 and sentenced to six months jail (which he never served) and banned from public office for eight years.

After making his statement before the judge he was taken to the jail in Alhaurín de la Torre (Málaga). No bail was set.

The judge also sent to jail with out bail the ex Partida Andalucista counsellor and provincial secretary Pedro Pérez, The president of Aifos (a large construction company) Jesús Ruiz Casado, and the company's director general Jenaro Briales on charges of complicity. The financial director of Aifos, José Andrés León was released on bail of €50,000 also on charges of complicity.

The joke doing the rounds here goes like this.
"Question. Which town in Spain has the most mayors?"
"Answer. Alhaurín de la Torre!" [where the jail is - three ex-mayors in the jail and one outside]

Monday, July 17, 2006

Tráfico 17 julio


A total of 135 people lost their lives on Spanish roads during the first 16 days of July, the month in which the new points based licence was introduced. This is 27% DOWN on last year's figures.

Source, Dirección General de Tráfico (DGT).

The reduction is at the top of the Government's prediction for road deaths. They had forecast anwhere between 3% & 30% reduction.

Tráfico. Veintitrés personas mueren en accidentes de tráfico durante el fin de semana, 7 menos que en 2005

Not as good figures as last week, but still heading in the right direction.

Photo (c) EFE

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Mi hijo mío


It seems there is some way to go to change some drivers' attitudes here.

On a separate note, the BNG (Galician Nationalist Party) are campaigning for autopistas to waive tolls when traffic conditions dicate - there was a 10km tailback on the A-9 yesterday whilst the peaje was empty. Madrid had 33km tailbacks.

I wholeheartedly agree. If the Government was serious about traffic safety, all the peajes would be abolished to keep traffic on the (much safer) autopistas.

Yesterday, the citizen's action group in Estepona were protesting (I forget about what) which resulted in the closure of the exit from the A-7 there. This forced all the traffic down the AP-7 where they had to pay the toll at the Casares exit, me included. I have kept my receipt and will be sending it back to Autopistas del Sol for a refund, since I had no choice but to use their motorway, one of the most epensive in Europe per km. In summer to get from La Linea where I work to Málaga Airport costs the following: €2.65 at Casares, €3.70 at San Pedro and €5.50 at Calahonda, a total of €11.85 for an 80km journey (not including the unavoidable 8km stretch of A-7 at Marbella or the short strech of A-7 at Estepona). So that's €12 for a 72km motorway journey or €1 per 6 km.

Since, on average I do this journey 3-4 times a week, the return journey costs up to €100 a week, €400 a month. Is this the price of safety?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Señales verticales: 2

Just in case I'm in danger of taking myself too seriously.

This wonderful sign comes from the Exeter area in the UK.

Señales verticales

This reminds me of a story about two ladies who are amongst the longest-serving? expats in the Estepona area. They arrived there in 1970.

To protect their identity I won't reveal what they do, but they are well known in the area.

They are unique, as far as I know, in that they are the only expats ever to have had their burro towed away after illegally parking it.

El Nuevo permiso por puntos: 3

Since it's my job to know the Spanish traffis law I thought I'd point out the error in my previous post on this subject.

Fines for traffic offences are in the following ranges:
For leves: up to €90
For graves (serious): €91 - €300
For muy graves (very serious): €301 - €600,
AND (Article 67.2 refers) for the following muy graves: €301 - €1500
  1. Failure to identify the driver of the vehicle where an offence has been committed.
  2. Driving without a licence
  3. Driving an unregistered vehicle or failure to comply with the administrative requirements.
  4. Failure to comply with driving school requirements
  5. Failure to comply with driver re-education requirements
  6. Failure to comply with the requirements on industrial activities re road safety

All those expats in non-MOT'd UK reg cars may well fall foul to no. 3 above. Even if it has an MOT, if it has been driven for more than 6 months in Spain you could be done under that clause.

¿Estan tontos o que?

As Victor Meldrew would say....

This PC gem comes from the UK Department for Transport.

Personally, I would use my ears!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Tráfico.- Un total de 27 personas fallecen en las carreteras en el segundo fin de semana de julio, 17 menos que en 2005


A Total of 27 people died on Spanish roads this last weekend in July, 17 less than at the same time last year, when 44 died - the worst weekend in 2005 according to DGT (tráfico).

During the whole week (3-9 July) there were 51 fatalities.

What cannot be determined at this stage is why the figures are (thankfully) much lower this year. Possibly the new driving licence system. Possibly increased Guardia Civil presence on the roads. Possibly less traffic density.

Given that on average, someone died on Spanish roads every 90 minutes last year, any improvement is welcome.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Tráfico rebaja de 140 a 132 kilómetros por hora el margen de tolerancia del radar.

This story came up on my RSS today.

DGT (Tráfico) is to revise downwards the tolerances on radar traps in Spain. Until now the 'trip' speed on autopistas (motorways) and autovías (highways) has been set at 140kph. This is to be reduced to 132kph [no effective date given - perhaps today]. The limit allows for a 5% margin of error in speedometers and 5% for the speed camera radar. Speed in excess of 132kph will be punished by a fine of €120, but no points endorsment of the driver's licence.

The revised tolerance limits will be as follows:-
  • autopistas (motorways) and autovías (highways) - 132kph
  • conventional roads with a minimum 1.5m hard shoulder or multicarriageway - 110kph
  • Other roads outside populated areas - 99kph
  • Towns - 55kph

The above limits only apply to cars and motorcycles. Other vehicles have their speed limits adjusted accordingly. e.g. a car with trailer is only allowed to travel at 70kph on a 90kph road above and the tolerance for rader will now be 77kph for that type of vehicle on that type of road.

Footnote: Until 2005, Spain had a total of 250 fixed radar traps. The 2005 traffic plan calls for the installation of 250 more to make a total of 500. Some of these have already been installed. Under the constitution, the location of these radar traps must be made publicly available. Their location can be found on the DGT website here.

There are also a number of mobile units operated by the Guardia Civil. The cars carrying them are normally unmarked larger saloon cars such as Renault Laguna, Opel Vectra, or the Nissan Primera (pictured above) etc. - i.e. not easy to spot. There are commercial services which advertise the location of these mobile units, such as Inforadar. This is not illegal since the service does not rely on the use of radar detection equipment.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Anatomía del accidente

As I mentioned recently, the level of accidents involving HGVs in Spain is much higher than other EU countries. The following accident occurred on the A-7 highway at san Roque, km 118.

Picture 1:

The truck in the background has just hit a car from behind. The cloud of dust he threw up indicates that he did not see the traffic queue in front of him in time, and that he was going too fast.

I estimated his speed to be 100kph+ as he came round the bend and saw the slow-moving traffic just 100m in front of him - giving him 3.6 seconds to react and stop 26 tonnes of truck. He covered at least 25m (0.9s) before applying the brakes. Being unladen, the rear wheels immediately locked.

Picture 2:

That was an Opel Astra. The occupants (hidden behind the van) have been evacuated to the side of the road and are in a state of shock, and probably suffering whiplash injuries.

Note that the truck has finished in a position in front of the car it hit. It appears that the car was pushed out towards the right hand lane and then drifted back into the left hand lane after impact and the truck had passed.

The car is an insurance write-off. The rear crumple zone did its job, but the car is a foot shorter.

Picture 3:

Truck with extra ornament.

Further on down the road was the cause of the traffic queue - workmen were cutting vegetation on the central reservation and had coned off the left hand lane only up to 10m from where they were working, and with no advance warning signs WHATSOEVER. This despite the fact that they were working on one of the busiest roads in Southern Spain during peak traffic (just before 10:00).

Two pieces of advice:

1. Road works and maintenance are frequently very poorly signed and with very little advance warning. ALWAYS maintain your safety zone. You MUST be able to stop in the distance you can see.

2. Inevitably you have to share the road with HGVs. Give them as wide a berth as possible, and if caught in slow-moving traffic, keep well over to one side of the road to allow passing space if the above scenario should happen.

El Nuevo permiso por puntos: 2

I found this graphical illustration on the El Mundo website. Although it's in Spanish only, you get the idea of the offences and penalties very easily. Brilliant graphics.

It is relevant to any driver on an EU licence, since although your licence cannot be endorsed at the time, details are sent to your licence issuing authority and will be noted when you come to renew your licence. You will still be fined and these now go up to €600 for 'very serious' offences.

Monday, July 03, 2006

La Kordoniz

La Kordoniz celebrates its first birthday.

I picked out this one as you don´t need to be a Spanish speaker to appreciate the humour.

(c) Josetxu Rodríguez, de "Caduca Hoy", Diario Deia

Las Noticias de tráfico

The first part of the story is encouraging.

From 2 July

15 people die on the first weekend of the summer holidays. Although this is ten less than the same weekend last year when 25 people lost their lives on Spanish roads. It appears that the high number of drivers having points deducted from their licences has had a deterrent effect this year.

In Cataluña the Mossos d'Esquadra have deducted 1,861 points from drivers licences in the first 24 hours of the new regime. This involved 514 reports and four drivers have lost their licences. One of these lost a total of 16 points (he, like all other drivers started with 12 points) for incorrect manoevres, excess alcohol, not wearing a seatbelt and driving without a licence.

In Galicia yesterday, a total of 234 drivers (only 11 women) lost a total of 863 points, mainly for excess alcohol.

In Asturias 61 drivers lost a total of 250 points and excess alcohol was gain the principal cause (opver 50%).

In Cuidad Real a total of 26 drivers, all male, six of whom were under 25 lost a total of 112 points, again excess alcohol the principal cause.

If I seem to be harping on about the subject, I make no apologies. If the little extra publicity from this blog helps in some way to make the Spanish come to terms with the stupidity shown by such large numbers of drivers, and this in turn helps to save lives, then it's worth making myself unpopular.

Just remember for every drunk driver caught, there are probably another 100 out there who didn't get caught this time. In other words there were probably over 50,000 drunk drivers out there on Spanish roads this weekend!

Sunday, July 02, 2006


This story shows why the licensing system had to change in Spain.

Madrid, 1 July, Europa Press

A total of 263 people died in the 235 recorded accidents on Spanish roads this June; 17 less than the same month last year. For the first half of the year 1,337 fatal accidents occurred in which 1,523 people died [104 alone in one week - Semana Santa], though this is 56 less than the first half of 2005.

The press is very busy at the moment with speculation on how much the points-based licence will reduce accidents; estimates vary between a 3% and 20% reduction in fatalities. Time will tell.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Sabia que va a pasar

This story comes as no surprise. I was surprised it took just four hours into the new licensing scheme!

Seville, 1 July, Europa Press

A youth from the Luisiana district of Seville is likely to be the first driver in Spain to lose all twelve points on his driving licence (the points system came into force at midnight 1 July). The Guardia Civil have recommended he lose all points following his arrest at 04:00 this morning for various offences.

The accused was drivng on the A-4 in Écija in a zig-zag fashion, for which reason officers of the Benemérita stopped him, as this constituted 'dangerous driving'. According to the official report, the officers saw obvious signs of drunkenness and asked the driver to give a breath test, which the youth refused.

Under the new rules, the officers asked the provincial traffic department to take away all the drivers points (12); six for dangerous driving and the rest for refusing a breath test.

Let's hope he gets the maximum penalty and the maximum publicity - there are too many idiots like him on Spanish roads.