On 28 December, 2018, the Spanish government has approved the amendment of Article 48 of the General Circulation Regulation referring to speed limits on conventional roads with the main aim of reducing casualties through road traffic incidents and meeting the objective established in the Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020 to lower the rate of deaths in traffic incidents, which in 2017 stood at 39 per million inhabitants, with the intended reduction being at least as low as 37.
The primary change is the reduction of the maximum permitted speed on conventional roads, setting the standard maximum at 90 kilometres per hour.
These conventional roads are the location for the majority of injury incidents, with 7 out of every 10 incidents occurring on these roads, and in a year in which more than 1,000 people have lost their lives. Inappropriate speed is the concurrent cause in 20% of traffic incidents
This modification standardises the speed limit on these roads where there had been different limits depending on the road characteristics, a factor which was set in the 80s.
The reduction also brings Spain in line with many other European countries, the majority being limited to 90 kilometres per hour, although many others have already established lower limits.
The modification also establishes limits for different types of vehicles. Most countries of the European Union with lower death rates per million inhabitants in traffic incidents already have a speed limit differential between light and heavy vehicles, on conventional roads, ranging between 0 and 10 kilometres per hour.
According to different studies, vehicles that travel at different speeds from the average of the road, such as trucks in relation to cars and motorcycles, are more likely to cause an incident, with a probability 6 times higher than if these vehicles drove the average of the rest of vehicles.
Through the change, the maximum permitted speed for trucks and vans on conventional roads will be 80 kilometres per hour. This limit that is common in most of the countries of the European Union.
In the case of buses, the generic maximum permitted speed will be 90 kilometres per hour. This is due to the relatively low incident rate, which is 40% lower in Spain than the average European Union ratio. However, there will be an exception in Article 48 which establishes a new exception for buses that do not have seat belts, which will be limited to a maximum permitted speed of 80 kilometres per hour.
The text of Article 48 has also been altered to make it easier to understand, with a new table explaining the limits produced.
The change will come into force one month after the publication of the Official State Gazette, in order to allow the road signs, where applicable, to be changed.