Last year the Spanish Interior Ministry introduced a new seven-point action plan across Spain which they hoped would help significantly in the reduction of the number of casualties on roads, fatal or otherwise. To this end €7.2 million euros of funding was allocated to implement the plan, which was announced at the recent 20th anniversary celebrations of the Guardia Civil Traffic School on the mainland. At the event, the minister praised the efforts and dedication of the Guardia Civil Traffic Police whose job it is to implement the Government's road safety policies.
Having considered road fatalities and fatal incidents so far, it was fundamental to the plan to try to improve not only the statistics but to save lives and make our roads safer to drive on. There were three specific areas targeted: conventional roads, motorcycles and vans. No doubt when travelling on the autopista here in Tenerife, you will have noticed more Guardia Civil patrols and many more spot checks on lorries and vans.
The vast amount of deaths occur on conventional roads, more often than not in head on collisions. With motorbikes, deaths have also increased and of the measures in the new plan is aimed at achieving better behaviour from bikers (it is also hoped that this will eventually include cyclists). In regard to vans, there has also been a substantial increase in fatal incidents, so this too needed to be addressed.
The seven-point plan is as follows:
1. The installations of Rumble Strips
A lot of motorways and some conventional roads already have these but a further 3,000 kilometers of roads will have had them installed on both the hard shoulder and central lane markings to assist in the avoidance of said vehicle colliding, often head on, with those travelling in the opposite direction.
There are many blackspots in Spain and indeed in the Canary Islands too. Of late there has been a substantial increase in fatal road traffic accidents here in Tenerife, by what are known as kamikaze drivers.
2. Limiting overtaking on certain conventional roads
As we are all most probably aware overtaking is one of the most dangerous manoeuvers that are carried out on an open road. Certainly, in Tenerife there are many of those that will come to mind instantly. This manoeuvre will be restricted in more areas - by the widening of the solid white lines (where possible) and new marked solid white lines again where possible. It has been estimated that this will create a reduction in the amount of deaths on the roads due to this type of driving. The numbers are sadly increasing of those who die in these types of accidents, and often these incidents involve young or inexperienced drivers.
3. Treatment of dangerous intersections
Junctions, especially some here in Tenerife, namely the top of Guargacho and some in Las Chafiras where road markings and priorities become somewhat confused, have become some of the most dangerous of areas on our road network. Of course, they are necessary as vehicles cross and interact with other vehicles that are already moving, which is always a risk, perhaps more so in tourist areas or resorts as strangers to the area are not familiar with road layouts.
How many times have we, as residents, been behind, or at the side of, or even in front of a hire car, more often than not clearly marked as such and witnessed quite absurd driving and lane changes etc! Part of the new plan is to install warning signs on the approach to such key junctions, especially where visibility is impaired by other signs, built up junctions or those with bushes or trees. This project is also expected to save approximately 20 lives per year. Readers will have noted over the last few years some obstructions being removed at hazardous junctions.
You will also have noted (sometimes at the cost of having your vehicle towed) for not adhering to temporary 'no parking' signs between specific dates and times put out by various Town Halls in order to trim trees causing obstructions for road users or blocking daylight.
4. Pedestrian Crossing Signals
Warning signs, illuminated, will be installed on pedestrian crossings making drivers more aware of them. They will be the standard type with orange warning lights. There are many of these that have been installed in the municipalities of Arona and Adeje, the largest tourist areas.
5. Monitoring and control of excesses of speed at night and of delivery vans
The idea behind this is to continue with current campaigns on a monthly basis and to increase this at night and on routes frequented by such vehicles. This will see these drivers being stopped and their occupants identified whilst also testing the driver for alcohol and/or drug use, correct documentation (including a current ITV) and of course valid, and paid-for insurance with a receipt to prove this. This is something that a lot of residents and visitors will not see as they are less likely to be on the roads at night.
6. Monitoring of speed and safe distance between vehicles on Motorways
In addition to travelling at excess speeds, maintaining a safe distance has been focused upon, not only by roadside patrols but also by the use of helicopter patrols, as will new information notices warning of safe distances. These signs are numerous in the UK, and are popping up here now too. The number of people killed year on year, due to another driver being too close, is sadly ever-increasing.
The final point relates to motorcycle users, who will be given more attention by both the police at roadside checks and ITV stations, to ensure insurance and other documentation is in order. Police will of course be monitoring the speed of bikes and those involved in dangerous manoeuvres, which so often result in accidents, often fatal or life-changing.