Seat Belts Save Lives –but there is still a reluctance to use them
Almost A Quarter Of Vehicle Occupants Choose Not To Use A Seat Belt
Almost A Quarter Of The People Aged 12 Or Over Who Lost Their Lives Were Not Wearing A Seat Belt
The DGT ran an intensified surveillance campaign focussing on the use of seat belts, child restraint systems and crash helmets.
In Spain, all occupants in a vehicle must wear a seat belt and this seat belt must be worn properly to be effective and legal. If there isn’t a seat belt available, then a passenger cannot be carried.
Children under 135cm tall must sit in the rear seats and in an approved child restraint system suitable for them.
Crash helmets are mandatory on motorbikes and scooters for all riders.
The seat belt is the most effective passive safety element in vehicles and the one that has saved the most lives. According to the data of the ESRA project carried out in 38 countries, only 80% of people in Spain declared that they have used the seat belt as a driver last year. 81% admit having used it as a passenger in the front seat of the car and just 70% as a passenger in the rear seats of the car. Although its use is mandatory for all vehicle occupants, there remains a reluctance, with almost a quarter of vehicle occupants choosing not to use a seat belt.
In 2017, almost a quarter of the people aged 12 or over who lost their lives were not wearing a seat belt.
Approximately 105 countries of the world population have laws that require the use of the seat belt by all occupants of a vehicle, but that is still only 67%.
It is important that adults use seat belts and is crucial in the case of children. Adults can make the choice; children learn by example and follow the instructions of the adult when it comes to such matters. In 2017, 5 of the 17 children under 12 years of age who were travelling in cars or vans were not wearing a seat belt, a fact for which the adults were ultimately responsible.
Spanish legislation requires that children under 135cm in height who travel by vehicle, in addition to travelling with the child restraint system appropriate to their size and weight as required, must be seated in the rear seats of vehicles, except:
When the vehicle does not have rear seats.
When all the rear seats are already occupied by other children of the same characteristics.
When it is not possible to install all the child restraint systems in said rear seats.
Only in these cases can children occupy the front seat of the vehicle, but always using the restraint system approved to their size and weight.
Towing a UK Trailer Abroad
It is now mandatory for certain trailers taken out of the UK to be registered with the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency).
Trailers with a gross weight of over 750kg used for commercial purposes and those with a gross weight over 3,500kg which are towed by private vehicles, must be registered and have the registration documents with the vehicle towing them.
A full list of countries which are covered by the new law is available, along with more information, on the UK government website gov.uk/guidance/trailer-registration, where you will see that you do not need to register trailers used in Spain, but you must register if you drive through France, and other countries, if you travel between the UK and Spain.
In order to try to make the process easier, and because there is expected to be a large number of trailers that fall into the categories, the DVLA has launched a new website, where the information on the trailer can be submitted, before the registration certificate is sent to you through the post and an email confirmation, which will allow you to then have the number plate made which must be displayed on the trailer.
You can register your trailer and find out more at gov.uk/register-trailer-to-take-abroad
Tougher Driving Penalties
The Spanish government has approved the hardening of penalties for serious traffic offences, as spearheaded by campaigner Anna González.
Anna González, lost her husband Óscar in 2015 when he was cycling and was hit by a truck. The driver, who fled the scene, was identified by the remains of the vehicle that were left in the ditch. He was arrested and prosecuted, but could only be charged with a homicide for imprudence and not for the crime of the omission of duty of relief.
Although Anna’s campaigning focused on cyclists, the main changes to the laws affect all incidents and all vehicles.
There is a new crime of abandonment of the place of the incident, with penalties of 2-4 years in prison in the event of the incident being as a result of imprudence, or from 3 to 6 months in prison in the event of a lesser degree of a charge.
Another change is automatic imprudence in the event of a serious incident. If a crime against road safety is committed which causes death or injury, this conduct will automatically be considered as serious imprudence. The penalties will be 1-4 years in prison in case of death and up to 1 year in the case of injuries.
There has also been an increase in prison sentences. In these latest changes the judge has the power to aggravate the sentence by one degree, resulting in up to 6 years in prison, if there are at least two deaths or one deceased and one very seriously injured. The judge may aggravate the sentence by two degrees, therefore up to 9 years in prison, in the event of there being ‘many’ fatalities.
Some of the less serious offences have been classified as crimes. For example, if a serious infraction of the traffic law is committed, such as overtaking where forbidden, failing to stop at a stop sign or traffic light, manipulating a mobile phone whilst driving, failing to maintain a safe distance of 1.5 metres when passing a cyclist, etc, which subsequently result in injury or death, will be considered as reckless of a less serious nature.
ALERTCOPS App Update
This updated version allows you to share your location information with your own private list of recipients, not only the emergency services. As before, you can also send pictures and videos with the report, but to your private list if you choose.
Another improvement is the option to receive security alerts based on your own location, which can be updated on a frequency of your choosing and you can have a chat conversation with the operators in your own language.
If you are already a registered user of the app, you will need to uninstall your current version before installing the update. The app can be downloaded for Apple and Android phones, registered with your personal details such as your NIE.
The app has been praised for helping to locate numerous vulnerable and missing people and allowing reports of both domestic violence and bullying to be made in confidence. If you are a victim or witness a crime, the app puts you in touch with the emergency services immediately, where you can chat to the operators, send photos and videos and you will get an immediate response.