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Avoiding the Safety Car Effect

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During special operations, as was the case this weekend with the first major road traffic movement for summer, more traffic patrols can be seen on the road. However, sometimes the sight of these patrols can cause unnecessary delays, through a phenomenon known as the ‘Safety Car’ effect.

Often, when drivers see a Guardia Civil or police patrol, they instinctively feel a reluctance to overtake, even though there may be two or more lanes, the way is clear, and there is no obvious reason not to pass, some drivers feel a fear and automatically ease back. All too often, this is unnecessary.

Of course, it is true that if you are caught breaking the law, speeding for example, then it would be natural to assume that a patrol would stop you and deal with the offence committed, but under normal driving conditions, if you are abiding by the law, there is no reason for you to be stopped.

As you go about your journey, you don´t know what the patrol is doing. Maybe they are intentionally driving below the speed limit, maybe they are making observations along the road, who knows what they are dong, and, actually, it´s none of our business.

If you see a patrol ahead and they are driving normally (remember, traffic cars have blue lights illuminated all the time, so that is not an indicator of a problem), look at you and your own actions. Are you driving within the law, within the speed limit, allowing the correct distance, etc, in other words, do what you would do with a normal car. If it is safe, legal and convenient for you to overtake, then do so. Treat the patrol vehicle like you would any other.

If the patrol does not want you to pass, they will signal you to stay back, by using flashing lights, a matrix sign, or flags. If there is not an emergency, you may pass, if it is safe, legal and convenient to do so.

Safety cars are used on race tracks to slow down racers because of a problem ahead. The roads are not race tracks, there are no safety cars. If there is a problem, you will know about it. If everything looks normal, then it is.

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