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Motoring in Spain Book, Third Edition Update, November 2007

This is the first update and new information page for the new Third Edition issued from late November 2007 for sale in the shops from 1st December 2007.  One of the items below shows the real need for the updates as it has just been announced that the "Plan Prever" is to finish in December 2007.

The updates for the Second Edition will be taken off the web-site at the end of January 2008, but I would like to remind readers that this is the only book of its kind, that is, information on living in Spain in English where regular updates are an added value bonus.

 

NEW CRIMINAL PENALTIES STARTED IN OCTOBER.

 The new seriously hard penalties for those who commit certain crimes on the roads are now to be in force says Trafico.  The list is in the new edition of my book on page 66, but they include especially drinking and driving or drugging which is still a major cause of accidents and deaths, using a mobile phone while driving, including parked on the road which includes even the hard shoulder and speeding at rates 50% more than the speed limit out of the residential areas.  Another target is driving without a safety belt and the big problem here in Spain is people who have passengers who even though the belts are in the car, they do not ensure that they are being worn, and this includes children.   I still see cars driving around with children not seated in an approved child seat and these swell the figures which for the two months of July and August were 60% of those killed and at Easter (Semana Santa) 48%.

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FIRST REPORT OF EXPAT BEING PENALISED DUE TO UK DRIVING LICENCE BEING EXPIRED AS NO MEDICAL HAD BEEN TAKEN.

I have had an email from Mr. Graham Ward who lives near Torrevieja who advises of a lady friend who was involved in an accident where she thought she was not at fault, but there were some serious injuries.   Although she has a current UK-DL with the expiry date on it still being a few years away, because she had not had the mandatory medicals, she was found to be driving with an expired DL and as a result was fined and received penalty points.  She also lost her fairly new car as her insurance company would not pay out and she cannot afford to get it repaired otherwise.   I have been warning of this for nearly two years now, and it hurts to think that there are so many out there who seem to not be bothered to be legal to the extent that it can eventually probably ruin their lives as in this case, the lady will have an increased premium as well as a criminal record.  So get with it folks and have that vital medical, which costs about 30 – 35 and takes about ten minutes to do.  Why, where, and what to expect is covered in the new book, Motoring in Spain, Third Edition now on sale, pages 144 - 146.

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The A7 / N340 carretera from Estepona to Fuengirola to be made safer.

 Just announced, on the Costa Del Sol, the dangerous N340 / A7 is to have “slip roads”, or acceleration lanes, made to avoid the many entrances (and exits) where to enter, a vehicle really needs to accelerate from zero to 100 kph in one metre to be safe.  About time too.

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Plan Prever to finish.

 “Plan Prever” is where for cars that are older than 10 years, when you buy a NEW car and scrap the old one, Trafico, which is the government, would pay you a sum of cash to put towards the new car, usually nearly 500.  The intention was to encourage the removal of all the old polluting cars from the roads.  This finishes on the 31st December this year But on the 1st January, the new tax rates start where, for example, if the new car is rated at less than 120 Gm per kilometre, the special tax is reduced from 7% to zero.  But of course this tax for the more polluting vehicles is increased so the overall tax take is about the same based on the sales figures for 2006.  More details on page 253 in the new book.

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Promise that all transactions will be possible form 2009 from your home or office PC.

 From 2009, it is promised that it will be possible to carry out all transactions as far as motor vehicles, taxes, income and local and other government actions for the citizens over the internet from home (if you have a PC and internet connection).  The new book has advice on how to obtain your secure “certificado de usario” (users certificate) on pages 246 to 249, so you can do many checks and actions now using your PC safely.  So to check if you have any penalty points (which can be done now) or to check who has owned a car you are thinking of buying and if there are any outstanding debts on it (fines?), you will be able to do it from home.  The new book describes how to do some of these actions yourself now.

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The Police and the Guardia Civil are getting their new roadside drug testing devices.

 The police and Guardia Civil are currently being issued with small hand-held devices that can test a driver for illegal drugs at the side of the road: and this is a very much needed device in my opinion.   I have had some bad experiences near a famous port here on the Costa del Sol, especially at weekends where car and motorcycle drivers had acted in a completely irrational way, driving crazily and threatening drivers who object to their stupidity.  I know it may be wrong to assume they are drugged up, but if not, they certainly need to lose their licence for aggressive and dangerous driving, and this boring old bugger, me, who has never driven drunk or taken drugs unless a doctor says so, would hate to end his life in a stupid accident caused by such people.  I have a younger friend who works in this famous port and he reports the amount of cocaine taken there is astonishing, especially at weekends.  I believe that there must be something really missing from such people’s lives to cause them to rely on drugs as a crutch.

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NEW CAR FINDER COMPUTER AT HEATHROW AIRPORT

 When you have vast airport car parks and you go away for a few days or more, it can be very distressing when you return to forget where you left your car.  I have seen grown men crying after looking for their car for over an hour.   Malaga Airport car parking is going to be much bigger when it is finished so the same problem could affect many of us.  Or doesn’t it ever happen to you, even when you are tired after a long trip?  What happens now at Heathrow A. P. is that your parking ticket includes an electronic part where it records the nearest bay number where you can leave you car and you are directed to it with flashing lights. There are 35 infra-red cameras, including one when you enter which records your number plate details on the parking ticket, and this device which Malaga Airport already has when you enter and exit. When you return after that flight, tired and fed up at being back in the rain (Heathrow) with the prospect of fighting heavy traffic, speed cameras or trying to find a seat on an overcrowded train, as long as your car has not been stolen, you merely insert the ticket in a slot on a PC monitor and it shows to the correct and fastest route to walk to where your car is.  It is amazing what can be done with PCs now, all very good as long as the government does not get involved.  Then it is often a very expensive disaster.

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NEW BUSES FOR SCHOOLCHILDREN MUST HAVE SEAT BELTS FOR ALL SEATS FROM OCTOBER 2007. 

 These buses will not be passed for matriculation without suitable seat belts being fitted and they must be maintained in good working order.

 

 Trafico reports on a survey of accidents involving motos and other vehicles and the result is that the problem especially in the towns, the drivers of motor cars and trucks do not allow for a motor-cycle being there.  From my motor-cycling days I can remember being in great danger on many occasions because a car driver would act as if you were not there, and when stopped by me, would say sorry, but “I did not see you” despite my being dressed with reflective clothes and a brightly coloured machine, often with  fairing on it.  My answer usually was, being six foot tall looking like a rugby player was, “No, you are telling lies again.  You did not look.  Be honest now.”  Another problem that came out of the survey was many of the car drivers were drunk, so really it is up to the motorcyclist to ride very defensively and I learnt quickly that is the way to survive.   Always assume the other driver is going to do something very silly, and I still act that way while driving a car.  We must remember that the sales of motorcycles have rocketed since car drivers could ride one up to 125 cc on their car licenses and many many think they are safe as if in a car.  Trafico is also altering the moto driving licence classifications to give gradual riding experience so there is a few years of gradual experience before you can qualify to ride the 170 mph ( 270 kph) machines that can now be bought.  See pages 126 and 127 in the new book.

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FUELS FOR MOTOR VEHICLES.

 Much is being talked and written about bio-fuels replacing fossil fuels for diesel and petrol, but I believe that it is not the way to go.  I must hasten to add at this time that although I write about the laws on motoring in Spain, I was also a licensed aircraft engineer and later ran large workshops servicing earthmoving and mining equipment in South Africa as well as personally designing hydraulic systems for equipment use in factories and mobile machines. So learning how to use those logarithmic tables at school came in useful after all.  I recently wrote an article for the local papers on hydrogen fuel as I see that the way of the future but we need many nuclear power stations to achieve this, and one paper, The Round Town News issued on the Costa Blanca and Gran Canarias recorded a large number of readers of my article on their web-site.  One of the points I made was that it is possible for us to have a machine in our home garages which is fed with just water and electricity and it will produce liquid hydrogen so instead of driving to a filling station each week, you can fill up at home. And the exhaust emits just pure drinking water, which means that all the country road sides will either need good drains or the shrubbery will do well even in a dry summer.    Bio-fuels are a stop-gap solution and a report in the USA says that if every available hectare of usable farm-land was devoted to growing plants for fuel, it would still only supply about 50% of the current needs. 

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