Traffic police have started a week-long campaign checking cars have an up-to-date ITV – Spain’s answer to an MOT – and that their lights, indicators, windscreen wipers and tyres are in the right condition.
The campaign, which runs until Sunday inclusive, is in response to the General Directorate of Traffic’s (DGT’s) concerns about the increasing number of older vehicles on Spain’s roads and the higher risk of death by accident which apparently correlates with the age of the car, motorbike, lorry or van involved.
In fatal crashes in 2017, the average age of cars involved was 13.2 years; in the case of motorbikes, 8.8 years and in lorries up to 3.5 tonnes, 12.8 years.
Additionally, one in five vehicles of all three types, including vans, did not pass their ITV test in 2016 because of safety and maintenance problems or because their emissions were higher than those permitted by law.
Compared with cars of less than four years old, the risk of death in an accident is 1.6 times higher in cars of between 10 and 14 years old, and 2.2 times higher in those aged 15 to 19.
Irrespective of age, over a million vehicles on Spain’s roads – about 5% – have serious defects with their wheels or tyres, with the most common problem being the tread falling short of the legal minimum of 1.6 millimetres, or unlevel wear and tear caused by poor suspension, incorrect pressure or the wheels not being properly aligned.
In Spain, the front two and back two tyres must be of the same brand, although it is not necesssary for all four to be so as long as they are in same-branded pairs.
Vehicles for professional use, such as vans, are the most at fault for having unsafe tyres.
The DGT also advises that headlights should be replaced every two years or 40,000 kilometres, as they become less bright with use, but they should always be changed in pairs to ensure symmetry and should be kept clean.
Dazzling other drivers with headlights on full beam attracts a fine of up to €80.
Number plates must be kept clean enough that they can be easily read, whilst windscreens should be undamaged, windscreen wipers replaced every one to two years.
All vehicle documents should be carried inside the car, and the ITV pass sticker must be clearly displayed in the top corner on the left-hand side of the front windscreen.