Monday, 28 February 2011

Spain slows down

Just days after the new regional government of Catalonia announced that it was scrapping the previous administration's "variable speed" measure, which effectively limited speed on motorways in a 20 km radius around Barcelona to 80 kph (but could bring it down to as low as 20 kph if deemed necessary...), at the end of last week the central Spanish government announced that it was going to impose a blanket speed limit of 110 kph on all motorways and dual carriageways as of 7th March.

This sign now belongs to the past...

The reasons given by the government are the bid to carry out large-scale fuel savings and concerns about fuel supply in view of the political and social unrest in the Arab world. On examination both reasons seem rather laughable. First of all, modern cars (and motorbikes, for that matter) don't burn that much fuel when they're cruising along at 120 kph in top gear, which means that the supposed fuel savings obtained by dropping the speed to 110 kph (68 mph) are so slight that they won't make much difference in the medium term, which is how most government plans work.

Secondly, Spain gets a fair amount of its petrol from sources outside the Arab world, mainly in South America, so it isn't the current state of affairs in Libya that's going to make a noticeable dent in the availability of petrol at the Spanish pump. But as Spain has a very deep-seated love-hate relationship with all things Arab, waving an Arab scarecrow around is sure to galvanise the masses and inject the necessary dose of jingo serum to help the average José swallow the pill.

In fact, the real reason behind the measure is twofold. Firstly it is designed to put paid to the vocal minority of road users in the country who have been clamouring for motorway speeds to be raised to 130 kph, as in Spain's neighbour to the north, France. Secondly, it is just another measure by the Dirección General de Tráfico (Spain's traffic authority) to be able to fine and cull points from more road users. Once again, par for the course.

In view of this measure, here at The Thruxtonian we will no longer be using Spanish motorways, since we don't see the point of paying tolls to drive barely faster than on a Carretera Nacional (the Spanish equivalent of British A-roads). As for all of you who might be driving in Spain on holiday or for business, remember that the traffic police will be enforcing this rule mercilessly over the next few months.

No comments:

Post a Comment