As technology advances, so do the safety features of our vehicles. The near future may well see autonomous vehicles on the roads, but they will still have to mix with cars of today, and yesterday, for some time yet.
Sadly, the risk of death or serious injury is multiplied by two when comparing incidents that occur with vehicles 10 to 15 years old, in relation to vehicles less than 5 years old, which is why the proper maintenance of all safety elements becomes an essential activity.
The situation is of great concern to the DGT, which is why the annual calendar of campaigns includes one dedicated exclusively to the monitoring of the conditions of vehicles on roads.
That campaign has been running all this week and will continue to run through the weekend until Sunday 26 January.
During the campaign, officers from the Guardia Civil, assisted by colleagues from the regional and local police in many parts, are paying special attention to the proper maintenance and tuning of all vehicle safety elements, including tyres, brakes, lights, signals and the windows.
In addition to the physical characteristics, the officers are also checking documentation, which not only involves checks at the roadside, it includes automatic number plate recognition cameras that can check for a valid ITV being in place on the vehicle.
The correct maintenance of a vehicle contributes decisively to ensure adequate safety conditions throughout its useful life. These safety conditions are periodically verified in the technical inspections (ITV). In the last campaign it was discovered that 1.64% of the vehicles on the road don´t have a valid ITV.
The tyres are the only surface of the vehicle in contact with the road. They are responsible for ensuring adhesion in acceleration, braking and lateral sliding. They also ensure that the direction of travel of the vehicle is as desired by the driver and the damping of road imperfections. It is recommended that the groove depth be at least 3 millimetres, although the legal minimum is 1.6 millimetres.
Approximately more than a million vehicles, 5% of vehicles on the road, have serious defects with the wheels, mainly because they have a depth below the legal minimum of 1.6 mm, have irregular wear due to bad suspension or incorrect alignment, or incorrect pressure.
In addition, vehicles related to professional use such as vans have higher rates of tyre defects.
It is also necessary to regularly check the cold tyre pressure, including the spare wheel, as well as check for possible air leaks from the valves. The cap of the same constitutes an element of tightness, so its use is essential.
The purpose of vehicle lights is not only to see, but also to be seen, since each vehicle is, in practice, an obstacle for others, so the definition of its presence is also significant.
So that driving is carried out in safe conditions, it is advisable to pay special attention to the use, maintenance and regulation of the headlights, to get, on the one hand, sufficient light and, on the other, not to dazzle those who are also driving on public roads.
Bulbs reduce their intensity with use, so they must be changed every 40,000 km. or 2 years.
The bulbs must be changed in pairs, because their use is symmetrical in most cases.
It is necessary to always keep the lights clean.
In addition to lights and tyres, the following elements are also checked and should be monitored closely:
The number plates: The driver must verify that the number plates of the vehicle do not present obstacles that impede or hinder their reading and identification and are not damaged or tampered with.
Carrying the illegible registration number is a serious infraction with a sanction of 200 euro but manipulating the registration plate to try to evade traffic laws can lead to a fine of 6,000 euro and the loss of 6 points.
Windscreen: The driver must verify that the windscreen does not present any damage, since it is a fundamental part in the structural resistance of the vehicle, in the efficiency of the airbag and in the support of cameras and sensors of driving assistance devices.
The documentation of the vehicle that must be carried, in addition to the mandatory driving licence is:
Vehicle logbook, which contains the technical data of the vehicle and the data of its owner (or an authorisation from the Traffic Department).
ITV card and corresponding sticker, visible on the front windscreen.