No need to carry driving licences at the wheel?

Enter the new ‘Midget’ App…

Drivers may soon have no need to carry their licences with them when they are in the car – although they can only escape doing so if they have a mobile phone on which they can download Apps.

At present, the law that requires motorists to have their driving licences on their person when they are at the wheel carries a €100 fine for failing to do so and ‘offenders’ are statistically more likely to be women – each time you use a different handbag or switch purses, you have to remember to put your licence in your new one, whilst men are more likely to keep theirs in the wallet they use all the time no matter what colour shoes or outfit they are wearing.

Failing to renew a licence when it is due – every 10 years for a Spanish one up to age 70, then every 5 years thereafter – and being caught with an out-of-date version can lead to fines of €200, whilst having a licence that is not valid at all can cost €500.

This is something British nationals, especially on holiday, will have to bear in mind after Brexit, since their UK licences will no longer be valid for driving in Europe and they will need to obtain an international motoring permit from the post office before each trip and, if they intend to live permanently in Spain or any other EU country, will need to exchange their licences for one issued by the State they reside in.

Fines are even stiffer if the person does not possess a licence, either through having been banned, having had their permit withdrawn on health grounds, or not having passed a test and can even lead to a suspended jail sentence.

Spain’s General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) has announced a new App is being developed which lets drivers show their licences to police on their screens if they are stopped. The App also allows for paying fines, checking points totals – in Spain, drivers start off with 12 points and lose a set number for offences, leading to a ban when they have wiped out all 12; the reverse of the UK system – access traffic statistics, check warnings, traffic alerts and the state of roads, carry out the most common types of administrative transactions, and access and amend their personal data where necessary.

The App also allows the user to upload his or her vehicle registration documents and show them in digital format if requested by police or ITV centres. At the moment, vehicle registration documents also have to be carried in the car at all times and photocopies, even stamped by a notary proving they are a true copy, are not acceptable when stopped by police or when undergoing an ITV test. This is always a concern in case the car is stolen or catches fire, since it can hold up an insurance claim and thieves may be able to find a way of selling the vehicle or re-registering it in his or her name. Being able to show a digital copy of the paperwork will be a very welcome move.

The App will be called MiDGT (‘My DGT’, rather than ‘midget’!) and is likely to be compatible with iPhone and Android operating systems. 

Social Media Dangers!

Everyone know that using a mobile phone when driving is wrong, even though we will all witness it on a regular basis. It is illegal, because it is potentially deadly. However, the days of using a mobile just to make a call are long gone, as the development of the smart phone has led to an increase in the potentially lethal use, but too many people ignore the dangers.

According to figures from the DGT, 12% of drivers and 31% of pedestrians make regular and dangerous use of social networks. The most recent report of distractions highlights how there is an exponential increase in dangerous attitudes in traffic related to the use of the mobile phone. The report is based on a survey of 2,132 people aged between 18 and 65 years of age. 96% saw someone talking on the mobile whilst driving, mainly drivers between 18 and 24 years old. 12% of the total respondents confess to using them regularly whilst driving, raising the percentage to 17% among young people 18 to 24 years; GPS (25%), instant messaging (19%), hands-free calls (14%) or email reading (13%). 530,000 drivers acknowledged having suffered a mishap or incident because of a distraction and drivers using their mobile phone admit to being aware that their actions are dangerous.

The Cost of Tolls

Although many drivers do pay the fee for travelling on the toll road network in Spain, there are many, many more that choose not to. Some areas have already seen the liberation of these roads, with other promised in the near future, but what is the real impact of allowing us all to save a few euro?

Areas such as the long-suffering N-332 toll road which circles Torrevieja has been reduced to the discounted winter price. At the moment, there is no sign of the toll road which serves the Zenia Boulevard becoming free; a contentious topic which many believe would solve all of the problems of congestion in one go, but at a cost we may not realise.

Parts of the AP-7 to the north of Alicante will become free from 1st January, 2020. The outcome however will be far deeper than the few euros saved on each trip, according to analysis of the economic impact. We must remember that the toll roads are operated by private companies. These companies were involved in the initial investment and construction and they pay for the upkeep. They also pay their dues just like any other business and the cost of running their operation, however large or small, they pay tax, insurance, running costs, wages, etc.

As we look at the AP-7 section near Alicante, the overall loss to the state, will be an annual 150 million euro, according to the Valencia Chamber of Commerce. That loss includes social security income, IVA and the local taxes we all pay which go directly to the municipalities which the road runs through.

According to the accounts presented by the company which runs the section, Aumar (a subsidiary of Abertis), their turnover stands at around 356 million euro annually. That means that drivers are paying a lot of money to use the road, sometimes as much as 37.35€ per trip, but 43% of their income goes straight out to the state and local administrations.

Of the 150 million paid, 30 million goes to the municipalities where the road operates through the IBI tax system (Suma). If the AP-7 around La Zenia were to become free, Orihuela is one of the areas who would lose the revenue that IBI brings in. 

It the tolls are abolished, HGV operators are set to save around 1,900€ per vehicle per year, although quite whether those saving will be handed down to the consumer remains to be seen! The liberation of the toll road network is something which has been demanded for many years, with an apparent reluctance from some town halls to get behind the calls, but now we can perhaps see some of the reasons why. What might seem like a saving in the short term may only be a sticking plaster for the future, as the local authorities would take a hit on income, some of which may well be used to service local roads and so although the traffic in some areas might decrease, it doesn’t necessarily translate to a brighter future.