New Speed Limit: Saving energy or just more restrictions?
by Kimberly on Monday, March 07, 2011
Spain has been a long time playground for visitors from more restrictive countries, but lately, it seems that Spain has adopted a more restrictive policy. In January the anti-tobacco rules went through, causing a wave of protests among those in the hospitality business. Now, a new measure has been adopted to supposedly save on the skyrocketing gas prices: the country’s freeway speed limits have been dropped from 120 km/h (74.5 mph) to 110 km/h (68.3 mph).
The new speed limits on freeways/expressways went into effect this morning at 6 am. The government was busy all weekend long changing all of the country's 6,100 speed limit signs to reflect the new 110 km/h limit. Whoever makes these 110 km/h stickers is dancing a happy dance after receiving such a huge order, the Ministry of Development reportedly spent a cool 250,000€ to change the signs. Yes, a quarter of a million euros; that could buy a lot of gas…
The excuse is that these measures are to combat the rising petrol (gas) costs that are being produced by a series of rebellions in various petroleum-rich Arab countries. At the moment, the measure is only approved through the 30th of June, at which time the government will study the impacts and decide whether or not to extend the new speed limit restrictions.
My thought is this... When do governments ever willingly become "less" restrictive...??? Yes, I think the new speed limits are here to stay.
According to government studies, the new speed limit will save the country over 2 billion euros by reducing their oil importations by 5%, a reduction of 28.6 million barrels a year and 12.5 million tons of CO2 emissions.
The consequences of going to fast aren't too devastating, coming from my point of view. Speeders can count on a nice 100€ ticket if they are caught going anywhere from 110 - 151 km/h (68.3 - 93.2 mph). However, their "points" will only be affected if they are caught going above 151 km/h.
Spain’s driving point system was introduced in July of 2006 in a continuing effort to change Spaniards’ driving habits and reduce their traffic mortality rate. In 2005 4,400 people lost their lives on Spanish highways and freeways and by 2009 the number dropped to 1,897 - a major improvement.
In addition to the speed limit reduction, other measures have also been approved tto save energy including the reduction of train tickets cost by 5%. The exception is in Catalonia, where the government refuses to fund this reduction.
After the dash effort to change all of Spain’s traffic signs, now the Traffic Department (DGT) has turned their efforts to the many fixed speed radars located across the country. 117 have been changed remotely to adapt to the new speed limitations, 25% of the non-mobile highway radars in Spain. A major effort is also being made to remind the citizens of the new changes with illuminated highway signs announcing the changes and asking drivers to adhere to the new rules.
According to a recent survey conducted for EL PAIS newspaper, 69% of Spanish citizens are not in favor of the new law.
In fact, many are speaking out against the measures and consider it to be just another restriction so that the government can make more money out of fines. Several reporters and radio stations have tested the theory that a speed limit reduction saves gas, but the overall consensus is that the benefit of going slower is minimal. Fernando Alonso, Spain’s famous Formula I driver, publicly criticized the new measures declaring that at 110 km/h drivers will be more at risk of falling asleep behind the wheel.
New Traffic fines:
111-140 km/h: 100€ fine
141-160 km/h: 300€ fine
161-170 km/h: 400€ fine
171-180 km/h: 500€ fine
+180 km/h: 600€ fine
Traffic point penalties:
110-150 km/h: No points lost
151-170 km/h: 2 points lost
171-181 km/h: 4 points lost
181-191 km/h: 6 points lost
+191: Considered a criminal offense that will be prosecuted
It looks like the “safest” speed for those who like to "put the pedal to the metal" is 140 km/h.
What do you think?
An energy saving tactic or a way to make more money on traffic fines?
I look forward to hearing what you think.