Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Uno de cada tres agentes pedidos por la Guardia Civil se destinará a tareas de tráfico

One in three officers requested by the Guardia Civil will be destined for traffic duty.


One in three officers requested by the Guardia Civil will be destined for traffic duty, according to the director general of the Benemérita, Joan Mesquida, who will ask the government to increase the force by 1.500 of which 500 will be for the traffic group.

Mesquida declared so to Cadena Ser [radio], on being asked about complaints on the scarcity of traffic patrols on the road. According to him, the low number of officers is a problem that affects the whole corps [The Guardia Civil is a military organisation but under civilian control] and he blamed the previous [Partido Popular] government.

He stated "Surprisingly, eight years of PP government left less guardia civil than when they came to power. There were [in 1996] 72,000 guardias and in 2004, 69,000." He added, "this means having to now make an enourmous effort to recover posts at a rate of 4,000 a year, double the recruitment of previous years".

He stated that already "on the table is an approval for the cabinet to increase front-line strength by 1,500, of which 500 will be for the traffic group" and they will be for policing of the new points-based licences.

By this means deaths on the road can be reduced, Mesquida said. "[the points-based licence] is a good initiative against accidents" and he trusted that in this battle there will be seen "day by day improvements" owing to drivers taking more care and "because with time there will be more technology to allow the detection of offences".

I can report that I see a traffic patrol about once a month. Bear in mind that in the province of Málaga there are only six fixed radar traps (all on main roads) and I have yet to see a mobile radar trap anywhere in Spain.

Taking the figures above we can expect that out of the current 70,000-odd guardia civil total strength about 30,000 will be front-line, and of these about 10,000 in traffic. Divide this by the number of provinces and you get about 250 active traffic officers for the whole of Málaga province (pop. over 1,000,000) patrolling 1,379 km of road on which are approximately 500,000 vehicles.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

No es rentable comprar puntos: te lo explicamos

This story came up on the Spanish motoring press, prompted by a report from Germany.

" The entry into force of the points-based licence in Spain (1 July) has not only made the roads safer, but also given rise to a black market. Points are for sale" “Auto Motor und Sport”.

Spain is European news, because the licence is one of the most strict, and has led to a barely believable business - the buying and selling of licence points.

In other countries with a similar licence, if the driver is not identified, the owner of the vehicle is responsible for the penalty for the offence. Now when a radar trap takes a photo it only catches the vehicle, not the driver.

In Spain, the owner of the vehicle must identify the driver (Article 72.3 of the Traffic and road safety law) [aimed mainly at car hire businesses]. If not, the owner is subject to a fine of between 300 and 1,500 euro.

Therefore, it is possible to identify another driver and make them liable for the fine and loss of points. It's this which has prompted a number of Spaniards to sell their points online. Because the driving offence is 'civil' and not 'criminal', the selling of points constitutes no offence. 25% of all driving offences in Spain are speeding. It already appears that some mothers and grandmothers have stepped in to take the blame for their son or grandson's addiction to speed. After all, they don't need the licence.

This is not the only loophole in the law.

At the moment, the most expensive driving offence has been 520 euro, and also led to 6 points and loss of licence for a couple of months. The guy was booked doing 219kph by radar.

This guy also has a get-out. According to Mario Arnaldo, president of Automovilistas Europeos Asociados (AEA) , Tráfico almost never reaches the 1,500 euro fine for failure to identify the driver by doubling the original fine for the offence.

In the above example, for 219kph we would pay 1,040 euro for failure to disclose. However, there's a discount for early payment of 30% (312 euro) bringing this down to 728 euro. Furthermore, this offence carries no points penalty, nor loss of licence. In other words, each points is worth no more than 60 euro. Much more is being asked on the internet, typically 250 euro, and up to almost 3,000 PER POINT. Given that offences totalling over 200,000 points have been reported so far, that makes an average market of 50 million euro.

Moral: Don't buy points.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Memorias de una vida pasada

I found this blog today which I found interesting for a number of reasons:

I used to live in Rowlands Castle for many years, from 1969 to 1983.
I made the same commute by (then BR) from RC to Fratton from 1973 to 1979 to get to school.
Neither the rolling stock nor the level of service seem to have changed much since then.

¡Coño! Estos excavadores pueden moverse

Hot on the heels of the Audi R10 win at Le Mans, Wing Co. Andy Green gets a JCB to do over 500 kph!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Los aeropuertos españoles han operado 181 vuelos hasta las 14 horas con el Reino Unido

The security alert at UK airports has affected most flights to Spain with some airports operating only one-sixth of flights scheduled for today, so far.

The full statistics from Aena (equivalent to the CAA) are available here.

Iberia's services from Heathrow will close today at 20.00, having only managed to get 2 flights away today.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


last week was feria week in Casares. Feria is the annual town party / booze-up / carnival which happens in every town and village in the country on varying dates. Spanish employment law even stipulates that every employee gets an afternoon off to go.

Casares feria was no exception to the rule - bigger and better than last year, new street decorations, more events, more food, more drink, more bands, etc.

Feria here kicked off last Thursday with a concert and local dance school. Now my girls want to do dance as well as judo. We'll see, provided they don't clash.

Friday was another band and crowning of the Feria queen. saturday was the shooting competion, horse parade and another band. Sunday was free eats for the whole town and another band.

Did I mention bands? The location for all concerts has been changed this year. They used to be at the bottom of town in the sports centre. Now they are put on top of the new car park roof, near the top of town. This means our house now has an unbroken line-of-sight (sound) to the concert stage - you can tell where this is leading. Spanish bands play from roughly 10.30pm to as long as the band or audience can stand it. In the case of Friday's band, they were still going at 7.00am Saturday when I left for work. There were at least a hundred local teenagers there trying to dance, though most were leaning against any available object and not moving very much. Spanish bands also play as loud as they possibly can - enhanced by a pile of loud speakers three metres high which prevents anyone approaching to within 5 metres of the stage.

Late July and early August is also the hottest time of the year here. It didn't drop below 25C ant any stage during the night last week, and was 30C for a couple of nights, with no appreciable wind to disperse the heat. This time of year is also breeding season for midges, gnats and mosquitos.

The windows had to be left open night and day in an effort to keep the house a bearable temperature (no air-conditioning).

Now our children are growing up. Lulu our youngest is seven, Charlotte nine and Tom is ten. They are now more Spanish than English, certainly in their behaviour. I don't recall them getting back from the feria before 2.30am any night. But then Casares is so safe we don't worry about them when they're out. One night, Tom got back at 5.00am. I guess he's growing into a Spanish teenager.

On top of that, I've been spending every available moment decorating our bathroom in advance of visitors later this month. We've had no bath or shower in the house for the last four months thanks to leaks and builders who've let us down.

Thankfully my employer is very understanding about sleep deprivation and has let me get away with arriving late the last few days.

Oh, and by the way, San Roque feria (where I work) has its feria this week. I think I'll have tomorrow afternoon off - to sleep.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Tráfico controlará la velocidad de 100.000 vehículos al día en agosto

A new (anti-)speeding campaign starts in Spain next Monday (7th August) for two weeks. This sort of campaign is a regular feature on Spanish roads, so no surprises there.

The difference this year is that the Benemérita will be on 1,900 'secondary' roads this year, checking the speed of 100,000 vehicles a day with mobile radar traps. They have chosen to avoid the motorways this year as 75% of road deaths occur on non-motorway stretches. In fact Spain´s motorways are twice as safe as those in the UK on a distance travelled basis.

According to DGT statistics, 22% of all road accidents are caused by excess speed, which led to the death of almost 1,000 people last year.

DGT are also mounting a press, radio and TV campaign with the slogan "double direction - double precaution" [single carriageway roads are called 'doble sentido' here].

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

El carnet por puntos ha reducido en su primer mes la mortalidad en un 20 por ciento

The story from Europa Press quotes Minister of the Interior Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba stating that traffic deaths during July, the first full month of the points-based licence, have fallen 20%. July was the first month in many years where less than 300 people have died on Spanish roads.

The decline in road traffic deaths was least marked in Galicia, North-West Spain. Asked about this the minister said that the road network in Galicia is a 'special case'.

As a former holder of a UK licence, I can agree that wallying around on few points tends to improve behaviour. It seems the Spanish are very attached to their driving licences, and don't wish to jeopardise the freedom of movement this gives them. Not least because most have to drive to work.