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Monday, 21 January, 2002, 22:38 GMT
Spain clamps down on dangerous driving
Spanish civil guardsman
Spain is cracking down on dangerous drivers
Talking on a mobile phone while driving is now an offence in Spain, according to Spanish television.

Motorists can expect fines of up to 91 euros (US$80) for breaking the new law, which came into force on Monday. Driving with hands-free sets, however, is still permitted.

Scores of people die on Spain's roads each week. Last weekend, for example, road accidents claimed 39 lives - a fairly typical toll.

Now the government wants to clamp down on dangerous driving, and the mobile phones law is just one of a package of tough safety measures.

Ignorance

Obvious offences like driving under the influence of alcohol, or on the wrong side of the road, will be classed as "very serious" and punishable by fines of up to 602 euros ($532). But so will failing to get enough rest.

Many Spaniards are still unaware of the new rules, said Manuel Mateo Mena, a Civil Guard sergeant on traffic patrol on the N-2 highway outside Madrid on Monday.

"We'll try and apply them gradually, so motorists can get accustomed to them," he told Spanish television.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

18 Mar 99 | Health
Sleep disorder causes car crashes
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