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ROAD SAFETY

Spain to ramp up roadside alcohol tests in bid to protect cyclists

Measures a response to alarming increase in serious accidents and deaths in recent years

Civil Guard officers at the scene of an accident in Valencia province caused by a drunk driver that left three cyclists dead in early May.
Civil Guard officers at the scene of an accident in Valencia province caused by a drunk driver that left three cyclists dead in early May. EFE

Spain’s General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) has announced tougher measures to protect cyclists following three serious accidents in the last two weeks involving drunk drivers that killed three riders and left 11 others injured.

The body responsible for road safety in Spain on Tuesday unveiled a plan that will see increased roadside controls for alcohol and drugs on Saturday and Sunday mornings, the times when large numbers of cyclists are out and about.

Spain’s Interior Ministry says there will be an additional 130,000 alcohol and drug checks on drivers out at these times and that tougher sanctions will be applied to wrongdoers, among them driving bans for anybody found to be over the limit for a second time in two years. Once those bans have been served, they will have to undergo psychological and physical assessment before being allowed back on the roads.

In the last seven years, the number of accidents involving cars and bikes has doubled

“The DGT and the ministry are concerned about cyclists,” said Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido. More than 400 cyclists have died on Spain’s roads in the last decade. In the last seven years, the number of accidents involving cars and bikes has doubled on both urban and non-urban roads.

Academics and experts on road safety say that Spain’s infrastructure has failed to keep up with the growing numbers of cyclists now out and about, and that awareness campaigns are required, both for drivers and bike users: a recent survey suggests that more than a third of cyclists do not know the rules of the road.

The DGT says it will also be monitoring Spain’s roads with a special emphasis on cyclists. This will be done using helicopters and unmarked cars, while at the same time, the authority will run awareness campaigns, as well as putting together more detailed figures on accidents involving cyclists.

English version by Nick Lyne.

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