The rise in fatal road accidents during August and the 121 people who died on the roads in the first 12 days of this month is 28% higher than in the same period last year. These figures are sufficient reason for renewed doubts about the efficacy of the new point-system driver’s license. It is also cause for renewed criticism of the national Traffic Department’s advertising campaigns aimed at heightening drivers’ awareness of elementary rules, such as respecting the speed limits, keeping a safe distance between vehicles while on the roads, and wearing a seat belt when driving.

August has been especially discouraging, with more accidents and a higher mortality rate. When viewed in perspective, the statistics are not so bad — the number of traffic deaths has fallen by 10% so far this year — but the feeling emerges that we are not going to achieve any substantial reduction in traffic deaths. However, there is no real surprise in the decreasing efficacy of the point-system license. It has followed the same process as in other countries: a very favourable initial effect in the first few months, levelling out to a modest decrease in accident levels. The problem is not in the point system itself — certainly a coercive one on paper — but in its poor capacity for dissuasion. The processing of fines is time consuming; the withdrawal of points disqualifies you from driving, but you are informed of this fact poorly and late; and there is not even any effective control of people who drive without a valid license. In short, drivers do not have the feeling that their infractions will be discovered. On the contrary, they count on a high probability of impunity. The success of the point-system license depends on the coercive capacity with which it is implemented; this capacity in turn depends on the administrative will to implement it, and on the resources allocated to this end.  

Resources that include, for example, prompt breathalyzer checks, more radar to graphically demonstrate the infraction committed — on four-lane and two-lane highways — and a system for the processing of sanctions that will not take months or years. There is abundant evidence that, while the law exists, the will to enforce it does not. It is unacceptable that there is no prosecution of those who drive motorcycles without a helmet, or that it is not harder to obtain a motorcycle license, given the increasing power and speed of two wheeled vehicles. The responsibility of drivers is only part of the solution to this chronic problem. 

The public will better accept the restrictions of the law if they see that the national and regional governments are spending the money needed to improve the dilapidated state of many Spanish highways, and particularly of the right-hand slow lane on most of our four-lane divided highways. It would also be helpful if driving schools taught learner drivers more than just how to turn the wheel and press the pedals, and if the renewal of driving licenses was tightened up considerably from its present permissiveness.
Spain and the Canaries seems to be treated as a serious matter only when deaths and injuries occur.

Source: El Pais