Spanish pedestrians to face breath tests

Pedestrians in Spain could soon be subject to on-the-spot sobriety tests and speed limits as part of a plan to make the country’s streets safer.

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Pedestrians could be subject to speed limits which would restrict their pace to “not surpassing that of a normal stride”.

As reported by The Guardian, authorities are considering proposals put forward by Spain’s Directorate General of Traffic, the government body responsible for managing traffic, which aim to “foster better relations and coexistence between pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and vehicles”.

Among a raft of proposals is one to redefine pedestrians as “users of the road”, placing them in the same category as drivers. Such a change could make pedestrians obligated to drug and alcohol tests, if implicated in a traffic accident or traffic offence.

Speed limits for pavements have also been suggested, which would restrict the pace to “not surpassing that of a normal stride”. More conventional proposals include increasing fines for drunk driving and the introduction of better regulation of driving schools.

The plans have sparked debate in Spain with the Council of State, the Spanish government’s top advisory council, branding the proposals a “violation of Spaniards’ rights”, as reported by Europa Press.

It warned that Spaniards “could possibly abstain from fiestas or from attending weddings and celebrations where alcohol is consumed, since they could be subject to an alcohol test if a vehicle near them is involved in an accident” and said a speed limit on pavements amounted to a “prohibition on jogging”.

Responding to concerns María Seguí Gómez, the traffic directorate’s director general, stressed that municipal police have been carrying out tests on pedestrians for months and that there was “nothing new here that will allow us to start sanctioning pedestrians, whether economically or with penalty points”.

She clarified that the proposals over speed limits were aimed at imposing control over very specific situations, such as when cyclists must share a stretch of pavement with pedestrians, adding that of the 370 pedestrians killed in Spain in 2014, more than half had alcohol or drugs in their blood.

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