SPAIN'S tough new amendments to the traffic laws, which give police wider powers to fine drivers or dock their licences, and which call on motorists to comply with stringent safety regulations, came into force on Thursday. Under the new law, drivers can lose their licence if they are fined three times for serious offences, although they have the option of taking a new driving course and test, in which case, the licence will just be suspended for a year. Police can confiscate the licence of a driver who commits an offence or is involved in an accident, if he shows evident symptoms of having lost the necessary conditions for driving, and the wording of this article has been disputed. An attempt was made to introduce the phrase physical conditions and this is likely to be adapted at a later date. Learner drivers will be banned from obtaining a new licence in their first two years if they commit three serious or two very serious offences, and will not be allowed to have a licence for a year. If a driver is caught without a licence, he will be banned from obtaining a licence for a year, and if the driver is the owner of the car, the car will be confiscated for a month. Serious and very serious infractions will be noted in a Drivers Register, where they will remain for a period of two years.
Moped riders will have their licences revoked if they commit one very serious or two serious infractions over a period of two years, although this will not prevent them from obtaining a driver's licence. The use of a mobile phone or ear phones while at the wheel was banned under the traffic law introduced in 2002 and this ban remains in force.
The law is an effort to stem the increasing number of road deaths in Spain, which last year was 4'032, six more than the previous year.
Motoring Associations, however, attribute the rise to lack of investment in roads.
The number of accidents rose by 12 to 3'446, which left 2'061 people seriously injured and 1'967 with slight injuries.
Andalucia was the worst hit region with 662 deaths, 30 more than the previous year, followed by Catalonia with 513, Castilla and Leon (415) and Valencia (401). The number of deaths on the road from December 19 to New Year's Day was 152, in 127 accidents. Two of the deaths were in the Balearics. The worst accident occurred in Madrid on New Year's Day when three people died and three were seriously injured in a head-on collision.
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