Final plans have now been set out for the special operation on the roads of Spain to ensure the safest movement of traffic for the Easter period, when 15.5 million long-distance trips are expected, 7.4% more than last year.
The operation begins at 15:00 (3 p.m.) on Friday 12 April, and ends at midnight on Monday, April 22, 2019.
Easter is one of the most intense time periods on the roads due to the multitude of trips that take place in a short space of time, with similar origins and destinations and carried out on the same days and hours.
The special operation will be split into two phases, which coincide with the days when the greatest number of trips take place, in fact almost 90% of the expected movements.
The first phase will begin at 15:00 (3 p.m.) on Friday, April 12 and end at midnight on Sunday, April 14. During this first phase, it is anticipated that 3.9 million trips will take place.
The second phase, which is the most important in the Easter calendar due to the volume of vehicle journeys along the entire road network, will begin on Wednesday, April 17, except in the communities of Valencia and Catalonia, when it will begin on the Thursday.
The second phase will end at midnight on Monday, April 22 with the return operation, an operation that will take place from Saturday afternoon and will continue throughout the whole of Sunday and Easter Monday as the Balearic Islands, Catalonia, Valencian Community, Cantabria, Navarra, Basque Country, Castilla la Mancha and La Rioja all recognise Monday as a holiday.
For those areas where the Monday is not a holiday, many of them still give children and students a day off, and so the dynamic of traffic flow is significantly changed in many places.
In order to ensure the road network is as safe as possible, this year will see 9,200 Guardia Civil traffic officers on duty throughout the operation, 400 more than last year.
This year is also the first main holiday after the reduction in the maximum permitted speed on the main road network. Excessive speed is still a factor in 29% of all fatal incidents on the road.
In order to ensure that drivers maintain safe speeds, there will be 724 speed control points, 62 radars, 557 mobile radars in the vehicles of the Guardia Civil, 10 operational helicopters, most fitted with Pegasus airborne radar, and drones prepared to monitor and regulate the roads.
In addition, there will be new “integrated patrols” operating in every province. These patrols are carried out by Guardia Civil officers on motorbikes which carry a whole range of monitoring and enforcement equipment, including Velolaser mobile radars, alcohol and drug monitors, and computers connected to the central database to check on all vehicles and drivers.
Speed is not the only element the traffic officers will be paying close attention to. The use of seat belts and child restraint systems are also high on the list. In addition to the ground and air patrols, the DGT will use the 216 smart cameras that check for the use of seat belts, as well as mobile phone use. Distractions at the wheel are the primary cause of fatal traffic incidents.
In addition to the visible presence, there will also be 264 unmarked, “camouflaged” vehicles that will be patrolling mainly on conventional roads to monitor irregular behaviour, but paying close attention to drivers using a mobile phone. Remember, you are not allowed to use a mobile phone when driving, you are not even permitted to touch it, and that also includes when sat in traffic or at traffic lights, for example. The use of in-ear devices for hands free operation is also prohibited.
There will also be a zero tolerance to alcohol and drugs: Preventive controls checking for drivers who have consumed alcohol or drugs will be intensified. During last Easter, 4 out of 10 people who lost their lives on the roads had consumed alcohol above the allowed limit. The rest of the year the percentage of positive tested fatalities 1 out of every 4.
There will also be special attention given to motorcycles, as in the last 4 years, 23% of those killed during the Easter celebrations were riding a motorcycle, despite the fact that these vehicles represent 16% of the on road fleet. The age of those who died was between 35 and 54.The majority of fatal collisions occurred on secondary roads and at the exit junction, or a head on collision. Therefore, motorcycle riders are also reminded of their responsibilities to adhere to the rules of the road, along with other road users.
There is also an increase in the number of cyclists on the roads during the holiday period. In fact, cycle tourism increases by 6%.Therefore, all road users are reminded to allow cyclists extra room when overtaking, at least 1.5 metres, and if you can´t give that space, then keep well back. Overtaking cyclists is one occasion when a solid white line may be crossed, but only if no traffic is coming in the opposite direction. Of course, cyclists are also reminded of their responsibilities to also adhere to the laws, and to keep as close as possible to the right shoulder and to be properly equipped and visible. Riding two abreast is permitted, but only if doing so doesn´t impede other vehicles from proceeding.
Improving Traffic Flow
To facilitate the safe movement of vehicles, the DGT will establish the following measures:
- The installation of reversible and additional lanes at times when the greatest traffic flow is expected. When driving in temporary lanes the use of headlights is required.
- All none essential road works will be suspended.
- The holding of sports events and other events that involve the occupation of the road will be limited.
- The movement of trucks transporting dangerous goods and vehicles that require special authorisation will be restricted.
- Establishment and signalling of alternative routes depending on the origin and destination of the journey, so as to avoid the downtown areas, which generates the most traffic. All the itineraries can be consulted on the DGT website, dgt.es.
- Dynamic signage through the more than 2,000 variable message panels of the main traffic variables: journey times, alternative itineraries, incidents on the road, etc.
Finally, remember to take plenty of rest breaks and to be alert when driving at all times. If you are tired, don´t drive. Plan your journeys in advance, and be aware of your own capabilities.
Last year almost half of fatal accidents (14) occurred after eating and 10 of the 31 deaths were people over 65.