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Motoring in Spain Book Update, July 2007

From The UK Times

July 7, 2007

Mobility scooters face tax increase.

David Charter

Mobility scooters for the disabled are likely to increase in price after a change in their tax classification to “leisure vehicles” by Brussels.

The new designation puts the electric vehicles in the same category as golf buggies and racing cars and will mean extra import duty for those made outside the European Union.

"Age Concern" urged ministers yesterday to fight the move, which is likely to add 200 to the average 2,500 cost of the scooters, as importers pass on the duty charge.

Manufacturers fear that it will also lead to a change in their zero rating for VAT.

Gordon Lishman, director-general of Age Concern, said: “Classifying all mobility scooters as leisure vehicles is ludicrous. They can be a vital tool to keep older people independent and mobile. A mobility scooter can make the difference between someone staying in their home or ending up in a care home.

“If scooters are to be made affordable for those who need them, the UK Government must put pressure on the EU to totally rethink this policy.”


The results of The first year of the Penalty points system in Spain.

7 July 2007. 

Trafico has published on their web site the results of the first year using the penalty points system introduced on July 1st 2006.   As readers may know, unless the offence is really serious warranting immediate licence suspension at the side of the road due to being unfit to drive etc., although a denuncia is issued for an offence, if the driver decides to fight it in Court that is allowed so if applicable, the license is still usable.  Unlike countries like Britain, if a driver is banned the licence is physically deposited usually at the nearest Policia Local station or wherever the Court states and only returned when the sentence is completed.  This avoids such anomalies as occurred in 2006 where a well-known UK “celebrity” was banned for a year and fined 5.000 for drinking and driving offences but a few days later was seen to be driving a rental car in Ibiza.   Apparently, as advised by the DVLA, banned drivers in the UK do not have to physically hand their driving licences over..

The statistics are below:

  • There have been 467 fewer deaths than the same period in 2005/6.
  • 280.000 drivers have lost 980.000 points between them.
  • Another 640.000 awaiting trial cases could lead to the loss of another two million plus.
  • Nearly 1.400 drivers have lost all points and their driving licences.
  • The use of seat belts has increased by 84,5%
  • 7, 6% of new drivers have lost all 8 points.  (In the first three years after passing the driving test, the driver has only eight, not twelve points.)

Ages - years.

Percentage of drivers losing points.

Up to 24

18, 7%

25 – 34


35 – 44




                          Offences causing losses (figures rounded off).

n       Speeding                                                                               40%

n      No seat belt or crash helmet.                                              15%

n      Driving under the influence of alcohol                             11, 6%

n      Using a mobile phone                                                         11%

n       Others                                                                                    22,5% 

Altogether, 58.868 notices were sent out to drivers giving them the bad news.


MORE NEWS 12 July 2007

 Trafico reports on the First year of Penalty Points. 

Trafico must be congratulating itself on the great savings in accidents and deaths on the roads of Spain after the first year where the new and current Penalty points system is being used along with the radar speed trapping at mainly accident “black spots”.  The tables below show that the savings of lives for 2005 is 14, 3% and injuries 18, 8%.  In previous years, although there has been a steady drop in deaths and injuries, the savings have not been anywhere as great.      


1/7/2005 – 30/6/2006

1/7/2006 – 30/6/2007

Difference %



- 18, 8


Serious Injuries

1/7/2005 – 30/6/2006

1/7/2006 – 30/6/2007

Difference %



- 14, 6



1/7/2005 – 30/6/2006

1/7/2006 – 30/6/2007

Difference %



- 14, 3


No. Accidents

1/7/2005 – 30/6/2006

1/7/2006 – 30/6/2007

Difference %



- 14, 3


 Accidents since 2.000. 

 Anniversary dates, 1/7 to 30/6 each year



 Difference %



- 14, 3



- 4, 9



- 9, 7



- 3, 8



- 3



- 3, 4





"Satnav" ownersare the new targets by casual thieves.  Some of the satnav units are self-contained and can be easily removed from the vehicle.  Many portable ones are held on the windscreen with a suction cup, and owners often remove them when parking and put them in the glove compartment.  But the suction-cup leaves a mark on the glass so the thief knows where to look.  Drivers who have one of these are warned to wipe the windscreen before leaving the vehicle in  public place.



Hybrid cars proving to be not as fuel efficient as expected.  A hybrid is a car such as the Toyota Prius that has a small petrol engine driving a generator that is used to power the wheels with electric motors.  Batteries are carried so the engine need not be running all the time, and these can be charged from a mains outlet.  The USA EPA (Environmantal Protection Agency) standard testing for motor vehicles has stated that this vehicle reached 60 mpg (US) or 25,5 km per litre according to their standard test.  25,5 mpg US is the equivalent of 30,35 mpg Imperial.  But this test does not include open road driving including driving in traffic jams or at speeds the normal motorist would use.   A USA magazine tested the 2006 model and found that the fuel consumption was near enough 45 mpg or 19, 3 km per litre, not the 25, 5 published by the EPA.    In other words it was 24,3 % less than the EPA figures. 

Our Ford Focus diesel, which is now six years old, and for which I have kept accurate records of all costs, has averaged 6, 2 litres per 100 km which is near enough 45 mpg, or16,13 km per litre.  This is being driven normally, no economy driving as such, but not racing either, and allows for actual conditions as found by most drivers including traffic jams and use of the airconditioner.  So why pay more for the Prius and other hybrids that are not supplying what is expected?  Although there may be marginal savings in fuel costs, the batteries are very toxic and need special handling to safely scrap them.  They are expected to last the life of the car though or some 10 -15 years.  The battery pack is expensive to replace though if damaged: about 2.000 at this time. 

Hybrids cost about 20 to 25% more than the equivalent petrol-engined version so unless you are able to save on road taxes etc, it takes an awful lot of mileage to make up the difference in costs. 

A USA Washington DC Honda Civic owner, who stopped driving his Mercedes E320 to save fuel found that instead of the EPA fuel consumption figures, openly advertised by Honda Sales, instead of getting of the advertised 49 and 51 mpg (city and highway fuel consumptions), he only averaged 32 mpg, 36% less than expected.  He is now reported to be suing Honda in a class action involving many other disappointed owners.   The Honda Civic hybrid costs about 25% more than the petrol version with the same options. 

It looks as though we have a way to go yet to achieve what the greens expect of our transportation, but I believe that we will eventually settle on hydrogen, although we will need a lot of nuclear power stations (electricity) to process the liquid hydrogen.  But the exhaust pollution in the street will be zero from this fuel.   At this time, the latest diesel engines with particulate filters are the answer in my opinion.  It will take a long time to use bio-fuel (made from plants) as the production is currently very low and outlets for drivers few, and with the fuss about global warming causing droughts, more food is going to be needed to supply countries adversely affected with their food production.  The same problem applies to LPG gas.  This has been played with for 40 or more years now (I can also remember seeing vehicles with big gas-bags on the roof during the Second World War.)  LPG gas works and it can be used where the driver can select gas or petrol (but not diesel) and performance is about the same, the gas being stored in usually the boot (trunk) of the car. 

The EU in Brussels has announced that around 2010, at the current and expected consumption, the amount of oil being used in the World will be the same as that being pumped out of the ground so we really need to get rid of oil as a major fuel source.  Hence the panic by governments to find ways to drastically reduce consumption while other sources are being researched.


 LOST YOUR LICENCE, ETC.    16 July 2007

My book gives instructions on how to download Trafico forms off their web-site on the Internet.  I have just been advised by a reader who has had a purse stolen with a driving licence in it that the "path" given in the book on pages 98 & 99 has been changed so we can no longer go directly to the page with the list on it.  Try this:

  1.  (click to go there)

  2. On the Home page that appears, click on "Conductores" under "Tramites" in the middle of the screen.

  3. On the left side of the next screen click on ""Modelos e Impresos".

  4. You will be in the correct listing page. Click on the dot to the right of the Form you need which is TASA 2.23 now (was 2.20).  You can complete the form on the screen before you print it out - two copies, if you want to.  Otherwise print out the forms and complete neatly with a pen.

  5. In the block "Motivo de la Solicitud, tick or mark "Extravio" (lost), plus the other information as listed.

  6. You should have reported the purse theft to the policia and record their report number details on the application or with a photocopy of the receipt if they gave you one. I trust you have a photocopy of the licence to send? It all helps.

Note: that if you have had your foreign EU licence stolen or lost and you are now resident here, you need to carry out the procedure as in the book to obtain a Spanish one where, if you have not had your driving licence registered with Trafico, obtain a certificate (page 103) from the driving authority in your country of issue, e.g. the UK, the DVLA.   Remember that it is an offence to drive without carrying a current driving licence but if you have a copy of the police report and the receipts for sending off the Trafico for a replacement, they can be understanding.


Classic cars to be restricted?

 The EU has just named 20 cities where “polluting” old cars are banned from entering, including E-type Jaguars and any car that emits smoke or excesses of CO2.   The problem is, as many of the cities are in Germany the ban could be extended within the EU.  It is probably due to such cars as the old East German Trabant, that endearing example of communist workmanship with a noisy, smoky 2-stroke engine that after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the now discredited communist system (except in Cuba and some African countries) was eagerly snapped up for a few Euros by collectors who could see that a good example would be worth keeping as an investment in years to come.    But cars such as VW-Beetles and Jaguar E-types etc. are also on the list.    Recently, some 1.400 classic and vintage cars are reported to have taken part in a protest rally in Germany to dispute the ban which has come from the EU in Brussels.  Why mention it here?  Because many of the actions in other EU States eventually end up being forced on all EU countries including Spain, although some are very good for us expats. such as not having to change your foreign EU driving licence when you come to live here until it expires (or is taken as part of being banned perhaps?).    We will have to see what happens now.



A young Spanish friend who owns a Ford Focus diesel similar to ours is bemoaning the fact that at 48.000 km he has to pay out for expensive engine repairs due to the failure of the turbocharger.  We have had one of these cars for six years now and it has completed 126.000 km and runs very well, economic, powerful (well, enough for me as I catch up on the corners) and uses no engine oil, etc.   One of the features of a turbo-charger is that it is not directly connected to the engine mechanically as it is driven by exhaust gasses so when the engine is switched off, it carries on running down to a full stop.    Some younger (and some not so young) drivers insist on revving the engine before they switch it off or race into their parking place and switch off the engine immediately.  Often this happens with the turbocharger (T/C) still spinning at as much as 120.000 rpm and as soon as you stop the engine, the engine oil pump that is lubricating everything including the T/C, stops turning so oil stops being fed to the T/C bearings.   Over a relatively short time, this damages the T/C bearings with a subsequent lack of power and much blue and black smoke from the exhaust (blue for burning engine oil and black for un-burnt diesel fuel).  The correct action is to idle the engine for a minute when you stop if from speed (while opening the garage door?), or drive in slowly and this includes when stopping anywhere.   As the repair cost is about 3.000, our friend is not a “happy chappie” having a young family to support.


 Motorcycling on a car "B" licence.

As you may know, for the last two years it is now permissible to ride a motorcycle (moto) of up to 125 cc using a "B" car licence, provided you have had the B-licence for at least three years.  Up to three years, it is legal for the licence holder to ride a two-wheeler with an engine up to 49cc.

Since this law came into effect, and it is an EU-wide law not just Spain, the moto accident rates have risen dramatically partly due to new riders who, having road sense due to driving a car, may have discovered how vulnerable they are now and the extra precautions needed to survive out there.   Anyway here is information on the legal aspects of riding with a B-licence.

  • You need separate insurance for riding the moto.  

  • If you have a pillion seat, you may carry passengers within the current laws.

  • You must wear an approved crash helmet properly fastened at all times.  There are penalty points as well as a fine for not doing so.


  • Also wear gloves and suitable footwear that encases the feet.  It takes a long time for hands and feet to mend especially if you need them for your work as most of us do.  If possible, wear a strong jacket and jeans.

  • Keep your helmet visor clean and free from scratches.  Riding at night or in the rain is dangerous if you cannot see well.  A good visor polished with silicone anti-rain liquid inside and outside is as good as a car with windscreen wipers.

 If you have anymore tips, please E-mail me


 Transference of insurance cover.

A question I was asked for the first time recently was what happens if a vehicle cover policy is in the husband's name, and he suddenly dies?  Can the wife just carry on without her name on the certificate or what.   The answer from my broker was:

"Providing the surviving spouse requests that the Policy is changed into her (or his) name there should not be any problem.

Some companies allow the current Policy to continue whilst others may require a  cancellation and rebate provided against a new Policy."

So it may be a worthwhile question to ask your broker when taking out your insurance.











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