Green light for the new driving license for 16-year-olds
The Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, during the presentation this Thursday at the headquarters of the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) of the 2030 Road Safety Strategy this Thursday in Madrid.
The Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, during the presentation this Thursday at the headquarters of the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) of the 2030 Road Safety Strategy this Thursday in Madrid.MIGUEL J. BERROCAL (Europa Press)

Starting next year, if the forecasts of the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) are met, young people aged 16 and 17 will be able to drive electric cars with a maximum power and speed of 15 kilowatts and 90 kilometers per hour, twice what has been allowed so far for that age. To do so, they will have to obtain the new B1 driving license, a type of intermediate license – between AM and B – contemplated in the European framework since 2006 and now introduced in the DGT’s 2030 Road Safety Strategy. The strategy was presented this Thursday by the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, at an event in Madrid. The DGT anticipates that this new license, which requires modifying the Drivers’ Regulations, will come into force throughout 2023, once the necessary requirements for obtaining it have been specified and the Council of Ministers definitively approves it.

The measure, not without controversy due to the high speed that the vehicles that minors will access can reach, aims to promote the mobility of young people in the urban environment and increase options “in areas of lower population density,” according to the ministry. In fact, in several of the countries where it already works, especially in France, its implementation responds to the needs of the rural world.

“It makes it easier for contact with road safety to occur earlier, but it also entails risks,” analyzes Enrique Francisco Lorca, president of the National Confederation of Driving Schools (CNAE). “There has to be good training,” he warns. Although the necessary requirements to access it have not yet been set, Lorca considers it essential that, in addition to taking a theoretical exam, candidates undergo a practical exam “on open roads”, that is, on the roads themselves, and not only on closed tracks, as is the case with the A1 permit, which already enables minors to drive motorcycles. “It is important that they face the traffic that they are going to enter later”, considers this professional, “because they are going to reach a more than reasonable speed”.

Currently, young people aged 16 and 17 are authorized to drive motorcycles (with the A1 license) and light quadricycles that reach 45 kilometers per hour (with the AM). From 2023, if the established deadlines are met, they will also be able to get behind the wheel of larger displacement vehicles and reach speeds of up to 90 kilometers per hour. Although the high price of electric cars makes experts think that the use of this new card will be limited, what is most worrying is safety. On the one hand, it would increase the protection of minor drivers if it is implemented as an alternative to the motorcycle, since the body would be covered. But, on the other hand, a hit by one of these vehicles would entail many more risks for the pedestrian than that of a motorcycle.

Halve road deaths

In addition to the new B1 permit, the 2030 Road Safety Strategy presented this Thursday includes a battery of measures that will serve as a national reference framework for the next decade and that are aimed at halving the number of road deaths. So far this year, 439 people have died in traffic accidents, 24 more than in the first five months of 2019. These are the most important news:

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Renewal of driving licences. The renewal terms will be extended in the case of young drivers and will be reduced in the case of older drivers.

Greater regulation of personal mobility vehicles. Parameters will be established for the use of this type of vehicle (for example, electric scooters), such as a minimum age, the mandatory use of a helmet, equipment or mandatory insurance to protect vulnerable users. It will be done in coordination with the municipalities.

New title of Vocational Training. It will enter into force next year and will grant the title of Higher Technician in Safe and Sustainable Mobility. It will allow you to be a driving school teacher.

Updating of the psychotechnical exam. They will be done at the Driver Recognition Centers, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Spanish Society of Traffic Medicine.

Courses for motorcycle workers. The Foundation for Training in Employment (Fundae), at the request of the DGT, has included this subject in its catalog of subsidized courses so that companies can offer them to their workers who use motorcycles.

Promotion of the airbag for motorcycles. The use of an airbag-vest will be mandatory in traffic tests to obtain a motorcycle driving license, and the acquisition of an airbag for the agents of the Traffic Group of the Civil Guard.

New catalog of signals. The catalog of signals, both vertical and horizontal, urban and interurban, will be renewed.

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