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DRIVING

Driving in Spain: The new rules and fines in force from March 21st

A new set of traffic laws and fines come into force in Spain on Monday March 21st 2022, including changes to overtaking, electric scooters and alcohol limits.

Driving in Spain: The new rules and fines in force from March 21st
Spain's traffic authority has toughened exisiting rules and introduced new ones in a bid to reduce road deaths in the country caused by speeding, distractions and other road infractions. Photo: Alina Lelikova/Pixabay

Using or holding a mobile phone 

Spain’s DGT traffic authority is trying to reduce the number of fatal traffic accidents caused by distractions at the wheel, the reason for road deaths in 31 percent of cases in the country. 

Driving while holding your mobile phone in your hand now results in the loss of six points from your driving licence, three more than previously. 

As for the fine,  it’s still €200 as well as the loss of three points if the driver uses their mobile but doesn’t have it in their hand.

It remains legal to use wireless or other approved devices if they don’t involve the use of hands or helmets or headphones.

Motorcyclists can have such devices on their helmets for communication or navigation purposes, as long as they’re not a safety risk. However, this doesn’t include keeping a mobile phone device lodged between the helmet and your head while driving, an offence which carries the loss of three points.

Littering

Throwing objects on the road such as cigarette butts will carry a penalty of 6 points and a €200 to €500 fine, instead of the previous 4 points.

Not wearing a seatbelt

Not using your seat belt or doing it incorrectly will be punished with a €200 fine and the loss of 4 points; one more than previously.

According to the DGT, one in four deaths in traffic accidents in Spain are people who were not wearing a seatbelt.

Overtaking bicycles and mopeds

It will be mandatory to change lanes when overtaking cyclists or moped users on roads with more than one lane in each direction.

Endangering or hindering cyclists when overtaking or without leaving the mandatory minimum separation of 1.5 metres will now result in the loss of six points from one’s driving licence rather than four. The fine will continue to be €200. 

Stopping or parking your vehicle in a bus lane or a cycle path will now also be considered a serious violation and could result in the same penalty as for not overtaking cyclists properly.

Half of the 1,370 people who died in traffic accidents in Spain in 2020 were pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists. 

Overtaking on secondary roads

It is no longer possible to surpass the speed limit of carreteras convencionales (secondary roads) by up to 20km/h when overtaking other vehicles. 

Carreteras convencionales are high-capacity single-carriageway roads in Spain which are a step down from motorways (with lanes in both directions, with or without separating barriers).

From March 21st 2022, anyone who surpasses the speed limit of a carretera convencional will be penalised and fined according to their excess of speed.

The DGT has reported that in 2019, 239 drivers died in road accidents in Spain as a result of these overtaking manoeuvres. 

No drink-driving by minors 

People under the age of 18 in Spain will not be allowed to use an e-scooter or moped if they have drunk any alcohol at all. 

Even though the legal drinking age in Spain is 18, up to now minors were included in the same categories as adults, for whom the limit is 0.25 milligrammes of alcohol.  

No e-scooters on the pavement 

For the first time, personal mobility vehicles such as electric scooters, segways and similar devices have a special category in Spain’s traffic laws, which also apply to bicycles. 

The new rules that come into force on March 21st 2022 include two important changes for users of these devices that are becoming increasingly prevalent across Spain. 

It is now mandatory for users to wear a helmet and it is expressly forbidden to ride on the pavement, motorways or highways.

Either of these infractions will be punishable with a €200 fine. 

The legal framework for stricter rules for personal mobility vehicles to soon be adopted have also been introduced, namely that by July 2022 new devices will have to include a breathalyser for users to be able to use them. 

Recovering lost points 

If you’ve lost points off your licence, there’s a positive change that is now in force. If for two years you don’t commit any further driving offences, you can now recover all 12 points automatically. 

Previously there was a three-year wait for those who had committed a serious driving offence.

It will also now be possible to recover two points by carrying out a driving safety course. 

READ ALSO: Electric scooters in Spain – What are the rules and latest changes?

Cheating in driving exams 

Using unauthorised intercommunication devices (cheating, in other words) during the theory or practical test in Spain now carries a €500 fine and a six-month ban from resitting the driving exams. 

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WOMEN'S RIGHTS

Spanish government divided over proposed menstruation leave bill

Talk of abortion policy reform and proposed menstrual leave has dominated Spanish discourse this week, but it’s also dividing Spain’s coalition government.

Spanish government divided over proposed menstruation leave bill

Spain’s PSOE-fronted coalition government recently outlined proposals that have dominated public discourse in the country.

But the legislation, which would allow women over the age of 16 to get abortions without the permission of their parents and introduce ‘menstruation leave’ for those suffering serious period pains, has not only divided Spanish society but the government itself.

The proposals would make Spain a leader in the Western world, and the first European Union member state to introduce menstrual leave, and changes to abortion law would overturn a 2015 law passed by the conservative People’s Party that forced women aged 16 and 17 to obtain parental consent.

The wide-ranging bill would also end VAT on menstrual products, increase the free distribution of them in schools, and allow between three and five days of leave each month for women who experience particularly painful periods.

READ MORE: What are Spain’s abortion laws for foreign residents and visitors?

Menstrual leave

Ángela Rodríguez, the Secretary of State for Equality, told Spanish newspaper El Periódico in March that “it’s important to be clear about what a painful period is – we’re not talking about slight discomfort, but about serious symptoms such as diarrhoea, fever and bad headaches.”

“When there’s a problem that can’t be solved medically, we think it’s very sensible to have temporary sick leave,” she added.

Cabinet politics

The proposals are slated for approval in cabinet next week, and judging by reports in the Spanish media this week, it is far from reaching a consensus. It is believed the intra-cabinet tensions stem not from the changes to abortion and contraception accessibility, but rather the proposed menstrual leave.

The junior coalition partner in government, Podemos, largely supports the bill, but it is believed some in the PSOE ranks are more sceptical about the symbolism and employment effects of the proposed period pain policy.

Vice President and Minister of Economic Affairs, Nadia Calviño, said this week: “Let me repeat it very clearly: this government believes and is absolutely committed to gender equality and we will never adopt measures that may result in a stigmatisation of women.”

Yet Second Vice President and Minister of Labour, Yolanda Díaz, who is viewed as further to the left than President Pedro Sánchez and other PSOE cabinet ministers, is reportedly “absolutely in favour” of the measure to reform Spain’s “deeply masculinised” labour market.

Sources in the Spanish media have this week also reported that some PSOE cabinet ministers feel the proposed paid leave not only plays up to stereotypes of women, or stigmatises them, like Calviño says, but also places them at a disadvantage in the world of work.

Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, José Luis Escrivá, stated that while the government should seek to improve women’s employment protections, it should also seek to boost their participation in the labour market under “better conditions.”

In that vein, some feel menstrual leave could be used a form of of employment discrimination similarly to how pregnancy has been historically, and the policy would, in that sense, actually be more regressive than progressive in enshrining women’s workplace rights. 

READ MORE: Spain eyes free contraception for under-25’s

Trade unions

Trade unions are also sceptical of the menstrual leave legislation. Cristina Antoñanzas, deputy secretary of UGT, one of Spain’s largest trade unions, has echoed those in the cabinet who feel the proposals could “stigmatise women.” She added that “it does women a disservice.”

Public opinion

A survey run by INTIMINA found that 67 percent of Spanish women are in favour of regulating menstrual leave, but also that 75 percent fear it is “a double-edged sword” that could generate labor discrimination.

The survey also found that 88 percent of women who suffer from disabling and frequent period pain have gone to work despite it. Seventy-one percent admitted that they have normalised working with pain.

Cabinet showdown

The proposed menstrual leave policy will be debated in cabinet next week when the Council of Ministers debates and approves the broader abortion and contraception reforms. According to sources in the Spanish media, and many cabinet ministers themselves, it seems a consensus on menstruation leave is a long way off.




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