A CAMOUFLAGED van used by the General Directorate of Road Traffic (DGT) to monitor Spanish roads since the beginning of July has set up camp in Malaga.
Since the van has been in use in the province, an average of 20 sanctions have been handed each day.
The van, one of 15 in use across the country, doesn’t come equipped with speed cameras, but targets other serious driving offences instead.
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From the elevated sitting position of the van, the perspective to observe other drivers is optimum.
Additionally, the seven seater vehicle has been aptly camouflaged, giving no indications it’s a DGT vehicle.
After this campaign period in Malaga, the van will rotate through the different Andalucian provinces.
The star sanction is for mobile phone use while driving, which carries a €200 fine and three penalty points off the driver’s licence.
Some studies equate the risk of talking on a mobile phone to driving under the influence of alcohol.
Other serious offences detected by the Guardia Civil have been drivers who shave or apply makeup while driving on the highway.
Another woman was fined for rolling a cigarette whilst driving, taking her hands off the wheel in the process.
According to the DGT, when travelling at 100 km/h, a loss of attention of four seconds, which is how long it can take to light a cigarette or look at a WhatsApp message, means driving 113 metres without paying attention to the road.
The ESRA Project (European Survey on Road User Safety Attitudes conducted in 2015) revealed that respondents are aware that talking on the phone while driving has negative effects on driving and increases the risk of having an accident.
However, despite a high perception of risk, 38% of drivers admitted that they use a mobile phone while driving. Some 36% read messages or emails and 27% write and send them.
According to the DGT, which relies on data from the ESRA project, these percentages are ‘significantly high’ among drivers under 34.
Other common penalties include driving with an arm outside the window, this can lead to a €80 fine.
Eating, shaving or applying make-up inside the car is a €200 fine and the loss of two points on the licence.
Experts warn that when talking on the phone, the ability to maintain constant speed is lost, the safety distance is not maintained and reaction time increases considerably (between half a second and two seconds, depending on individual reflexes).