ROAD SAFETY

Government to cut speed limit to 90km/h on minor roads

Variable maximum limits are to be implemented on Spain's highways Minister hopes to have new system approved "in second half of 2012"

Madrid -

Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz announced Tuesday that variable speed limits will be implemented on Spain's highways. Digital road signs will inform drivers of the current speed limit, which will be determined according to weather and traffic conditions.

In an interview, the minister stated that he hoped to have the new system approved "in the second half of 2012." Under the new regulations, the speed limit on Spain's secondary roads will be reduced to 90 kilometers per hour from 100 at present. Fernández Díaz noted that 80 percent of road deaths occur on this type of highway. The minister added that his department wishes to harmonize speed limits with European standards and said that the option of setting the maximum at 130 km/h on highways is being considered.

Last summer, the speed limit was increased to 120km/h after a brief trial period at 110km/h, which was aimed at conserving fuel resources due to the high prices of crude oil.

The scheme is already running on some highways in Catalonia, with variable speed control panels in place. A parallel campaign is taking place to raise awareness of drug-driving, with police checkpoints in place across the country. Fernández Díaz said that 19 percent of motorists on Spanish roads drive under the influence of drugs, which the minister termed as having a "terrifying" impact of the number of traffic deaths.

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