Apparently the DGT, Direccion General del Trafico, is increasing the number of speed cameras around in the Vigo area for Holy Week. People move around during this holiday period but the DGT expects fewer long journeys but more movement over short distances, people off to their nearby pueblo, and so they want to be vigilant locally. The aim is to reducir la accidentalidad, a wonderfully Spanish expression, impossible to translate quite so succinctly into English.
Now, according to statistics, the DGT collected more more money in fines for traffic offences in 2008 than in previous years. During 2008 some 4.4 million fines were handed out. This is 26% more than in 2007 and it is expected that income from such fines will go up by 15% this year.
The reason? More speed cameras: following the 2005-2007 plan they installed 521 fixed speed cameras, the dreaded radar which the Spanish moan about just as much as the British. There is a small problem, however; about 30% of the fines just don't get paid. In some places this figure is up to 70%. With a fairly typically Spanish contempt for this kind of authority, some drivers apparently have as many as 100 unpaid fines for traffic offences.
Around 30 to 40% of the fines are for speeding. Here in the centre of Vigo, with a lot of speed-restricted, semi-pedestrianised zones, apart from the occasional motocyclist who decides to use Gran Via as a racetrack and to show how noisy he can be, there is not much obvious speeding.
Up towards the top of Gran Via they do tend to zoom out of the tunnel bringing traffic in from out of town. In the opposite direction at that point there is always a good deal of honking of horns (favourite occupation of the Spanish drivers, and Italian and French and, for that matter, practically every nation except the British) as drivers realise that they are in the wrong lane and need to change lanes at the last moment.
What there is a lot of is driving without a seatbelt (one day recently as I walked past a line of traffic waiting for the lights to change I saw three drivers without seatbelts, two front seat passengers without seatbelts, countless unbelted rear seat passengers and, amazingly, a rear-facing small-baby carrier on the front seat without a seatbelt to restrain it!!!!), pulling up suddenly for some reason without prior signal, causing those behind to stop equally suddenly to swerve around the now stationery vehicle and, naturally, talking on the mobile phone while driving.
Now, if they can manage to fine all of those and, of course, collect the money, they really will increase their revenue!!