Just about the last ‘reform’ ordered by Mr. Pérez R. as Minister of the Interior was the return of the maximum speed limit on Spanish main roads and autoways to 120 kmh. The limit had been reduced to 110 kmh. for only four months. Having orchestrated this spectacular reform, Mr. P. resigned all his cabinet appointments to become official candidate with the PSOE in the next general election (this September? November? Next March? When?). Naturally Candidate Pérez could not combine being Interior Minister and First Vice-President with an electoral campaign which promises to be every bit as scurrilous as his previous ones.
The reasons given for this arbitrary reform four months ago were increased safety due to reduced speeds, and that drivers would use less fuel on their journeys; therefore the country would save lives and money. Needless to say, no-one believed the Interior Minister, as everybody knew the real reason: it was thought that a huge increase in revenue would be generated for the State from heavy fines exacted by the Guardia Civil for driving faster than 110 kms. Even senior administrators admitted that safety and savings had nothing to do with it.
Figures for April/May(June showed the result of Sr. P’s brilliance in lowering the speed limit: total revenues from traffic fines including those exerted for ‘speeding’ have been published officially at more than 45% LESS than before the reform was effected. Total government earnings via the 189% tax on petrol have also become substantially LESS, so drivers were indeed driving at 110 kms. or less, and buying less petrol.
In one respect, the government is to be praised, because anyone who knows the two autoroutes, south and north in Tenerife, Canary Islands will also know that they became calmer and safer during the brief honeymoon with 110 kmh. As I drove down to the south yesterday, with all the speed limit signs re-pasted, it was as if those four safer months had never been. Two small cars, each driven by grinning chavs, filtered through the usual heavy motorway traffic, overtaking on the wrong side, tearing along at 40 or 50 kmh. above 120. Taxis came up behind you in the fast lane, flashing and hooting. Everything back to normal then. Official figures tell us that there was no reduction in traffic accidents or deaths during the comfortable, safer, slower four months. The Government gained nothing in revenue, either from fines or tax on fuel. The changeover from 110 to 120 and back again cost a fortune. Comments from drivers in Spain please?