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TRAFFIC INFORMATION FROM THE GUARDIA CIVIL

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TRAFFIC INFORMATION FROM THE GUARDIA CIVIL

Last weekend, The Leader were given a guided tour of the Guardia Civil trafico office in Torrevieja, as we went to find out more about the motivation behind their new information page on Facebook for drivers in Spain.

Our guide for the day was Francisco, a serving officer with the traffic department, who is one of the team of five behind the Facebook page. Francisco explained that the page was set up to provide “information on Spanish laws and driving for the many foreigners who live in the area” that they police, which is from Alicante to San Pedro.

Whilst saying how it is all too easy to simply fine drivers for traffic violations, Francisco and the team believe that their first role should be about education and awareness, especially as many of the foreign drivers are not aware of the different laws in Spain, and Facebook is not only a great tool for spreading the message, it is also free, apart from the time the officers invest in it.

When asked a question that always seemed to crop up amongst foreign drivers as to whether there is an equivalent to the Highway Code, Fransisco explained that there is, although in Spain it is actually four publications, one that deals with vehicles, one for drivers, a third for the practice of driving, and an umbrella publication that covers everything else. It is therefore no wonder that drivers, foreigners in particular, sometimes find it difficult and baffling to keep up with the legislation.

Whilst being shown around the station we saw some of the vehicles used for carrying out their duties, including the liveried Alfa Romeo´s, which Francisco explained are high performance models with special equipment such as enhanced braking systems. They have people carriers which are used primarily in the course of accident and incident investigation, and of course the unmarked cars, which we´re not allowed to talk about. In addition, the garage houses numerous motorbikes, which Francisco explains that all trafico officers ride as part of their duties, “If you work in traffic you drive both cars and motorbikes”, he explained.

The Spanish flag on the station building was flying at half mast during our visit, which Francisco explained was in honour of Francisco Javier Soria Toledo, a Spanish soldier killed in an attack in Lebanon. Having returned from a peacekeeping mission himself only last year, Francisco explained how the Guardia Civil are posted to areas like Afghanistan, where they serve as military police, part of their duties being accident investigation in such zones, where reports are then sent to the UN for final investigation and conclusion.

The arsenal of equipment carried by the officers is ever increasing, from their newly issued high-visibility body armour, compulsory to wear at night after a traffic policeman was killed in France, attacked attending an emergency incident which turned out to be staged, to their electronic equipment that allows them to function whilst mobile.

The officers carry a breathalyser and a Personal Digital Assistant, or PDA, which is linked to a thermal printer and capable of searching the police databases for information on people and vehicles. Whilst carrying out a demonstration check during the tour, Francisco explained that one of the benefits of having transferred a driving license from the UK version to a Spanish one is that the data is all linked to the NIE number, and therefore easier and faster to check.

Now, with thousands of people already having liked and followed their page, Francisco explained how it has become extremely difficult to answer all of the questions raised, but he does confirm that all questions and comments are read and the most frequent enquiries are then put back on the page, sometimes by means of a quiz where the reader have the opportunity to guess the right answer, before the actual explanation is given by the officers.

We are honoured to be able to collaborate with the Guardia Civil and bring some of the information to your here at The Leader,and thank the officers for taking the time to show us around. Some of those officers behind the page will be appearing on Exite Radio soon too, giving more information, but for now, make sure you like and follow their page on Facebook, just search for N332, named in honour to the main road which goes through the coastline where they work every day.

Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/46330/

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