Spain Focuses on Main Roads, Vans and Bikers

Spain unveils a package of measures focused on main roads to get road safety back on its stellar upward trajectory.

Also, the Calais migrant crisis seems out of control again as more trouble is reported in Belgium, and Sweden. And, only full-on Winter Tyres in Germany from 2018, as Luxembourg issues a timely reminder on its winter tyres rules. Snow delays Grossglockner opening. A quick look at Turku, the drive-ferry alternative to Helsinki-Stockholm direct.

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SPAIN FOCUSES ON MAIN ROADS, VANS AND BIKERS

New measures to tackle road deaths, mainly on main roads.

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Photo @DriveEurope

One of the most disappointing road safety results last year was Spain.

Having made huge advances in recent years – road deaths were cut by a third 2010-2014 – it was poised to join the very safest countries in Europe (and hence the world).

By late in the year it seemed Spain was about to do just that as the UK apparently struggled with rising fatalities, and Sweden with a long term downward trend.

In the end both the UK and Sweden managed a late resurgence. Spain stuck at 36 deaths per million inhabitants compared to Sweden’s now 27 and the UK’s 29.

One of Spain’s strengths in recent years has been the impressive organisation of its roads agency, DGT Direccion General de Trafico (Catalunya and Basque Country in the north east are autonomous on roads).

Having all the facts and figures at its fingertips means DGT can tightly target campaigns.

A culture of openness – it publishes the locations of all speed traps, and their tolerances, for instance – plus a recognition there’s more to road safety than enforcement, seems to achieve a healthy level of buy-in from the public.

Spain’s weakness is its secondary road network particularly because, by law, every tolled motorway must be shadowed by a free alternative (which are mainly single lane main roads).

Last year more than 80 percent of road deaths were on such secondary roads.

That’s why the bulk of the seven new measures announced this week concentrate on main roads, but also bikers and vans, two other problem categories.

Within the next five months, more than 3000km of the most dangerous single lane sections will be fitted with rumble strips, in the centre line and on the shoulders.

Nearly 220 people died in head-on accidents on main roads last year. This measure could cut accidents by 29 percent and fatalities by 67 percent according to research.

Another 1000km of no-overtaking solid white centre lines will save 20 lives they say.

Warning lights will be installed at dangerous intersections – where 20% of all accidents occur – to prevent particularly deadly side-on impacts.

Red triangle signs on a white background, with a light at each corner, will warn approaching motorists of an awkward junction ahead, and the speed limit.

Other red triangle pedestrian hazard signs will be installed at high frequency crossings on intercity roads, with flashing lights activated by the pedestrian.

Meanwhile, integrated night time controls – drugs and alcohol, documentation and speed – will be stepped up on routes frequented by vans with a target to cut deaths by ten this year, down from 68 last year.

And Pegasus traffic helicopters will focus on monitoring safe distances between vehicles on problem stretches, though they will fly at low altitude and there will be warning signs in place.

While overall motorway deaths fell by 20 percent last year, the number killed in multiple collisions grew. Drivers face fines of €200 for driving too close to the vehicle in front.

Finally, targeted technical inspections on bikes on known danger zones will also be increased. Nine percent of those killed on bikes last year lacked the ITV (MOT) certificate. That rose to 15% of bikes more than twenty years old.

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Turku: the ferry shortcut between Stockholm and Helsinki.

On Race around the Baltic in 2014 we arrived in Helsinki exhausted and desperately looking for an alternative to the long drive around the Gulf of Bothnia. As it was, a good night’s sleep got us back on track but an interesting option had been a ferry from Turku on the west coast to Stockholm. Around 180km west of Helsinki, the trip would have combined seeing something of Finland while keeping us on our tight six day schedule. Turku is Finland’s oldest city, established in the 13th century, and the ferry sails out through the Archipelago Sea, the largest cluster of islands in the world. It takes about eight hours and cost around £150 one-way (the direct ferry Helsinki-Stockholm takes 16 hours and costs £250, see AFerry). Meanwhile, Turku hosts European Maritime Day next month. Photo @EU_MARE

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roundup: WINTER TYRES. From January 2018, all new winter tyres in Germany must also have the 3PMSF Three Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol – in addition to the currently mandatory M+S markings – says the German experts association BVS (via TyrePress.com). It means that pure All-Season tyres – which have the M+S marks – will no longer be legal in wintry conditions, i.e. snow, ice or frost. Effectively it means anyone driving in Germany in winter will need a separate set of tyres. However, tyres manufactured before January 2018 will continue to be legal in wintry conditions until 30 September 2024. Meanwhile, the Luxembourg Department of Transport has reminded drivers it has the same ‘situational requirement’ for winter tyres as Germany – winter tyres marked at least M+S must be used in wintry conditions (via Wort.lu). CALAIS MIGRANT CRISIS. The situation ‘every night or almost’ on the N216/A216 Calais port access road, as migrants attempt to stop trucks, is ‘abnormal, dangerous and mind blowing’ says local paper La Voix du Nord. A journalist accompanied police overnight this week, confirming recent reports that migrants are again out of control. It comes as the UK is to spend a further £8 million on a new fence and wall along the road. Work starts next month and should be complete by the summer according to Euronews. Meanwhile, Eurotunnel is to deploy surveillance drones according to The Mirror, though it won’t say how many or when they will go into service. Also, in Antwerp today, authorities were forced to put out an alert on motorway gantries for refrigerated truck drivers to check their loads after eight migrants made an SOS call. The group were eventually found in a parking site on the E19 near Minderhout according to GVA.be. And, truck drivers heading to Sweden are warned to beware migrants secreting themselves on trucks. HH Ferries which runs services between Helsingor in Denmark and Helsingborg has written to customers about the issue reports The Local Sweden.

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