The Directorate General of Traffic (DGT) is set to have a new leader at the helm, Pere Navarro, who actually returns to the role he held between 2004 and 2011.
Navarro will replace Gregorio Serrano as the head of the DGT, as the council of Ministers confirmed his appointment at the end of last week.
During his previous tenure at the DGT, working under the government led by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the DGT implemented such innovations as the driver’s licence for points, a measure promoted by Navarro himself, which led to a drastic reduction in the number of deaths on the road.
In particular, the points system alone is attributed having been responsible for reducing the number of traffic and road related deaths in 2011 for the first time in 50 years.
Navarro was also involved in the creation of the Road Safety Commission in the Congress of Deputies, as well as the introduction of stricter speed limits in order to save fuel during the petrol crisis, where conventional roads saw a speed limit reduction, as did motorways, where the network saw a reduction to 110 kilometres per hour, both limits being revoked was the crisis had eased.
On his return to the DGT, Navarro will find a difficult task ahead once more. After more than a decade of reductions, in 2016 the number of road traffic related fatalities grew again, a trend which has not yet shown signs of easing, but rather continues to increase. In fact, in his absence, and under the tenure of the Rajoy government, the number of deaths began and continued to rise after the continuous decade of falls.
Gregorio Serrano faced criticism over his management of the chaos caused by snowfall that isolated thousands of drivers on the AP-6 last January. His predecessor, María Seguí, left the organisation after former Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz withdrew his support and opened an urgent investigation into the financing of research projects where her husband worked, an investigation that was later shelved.
Navarro, who was born in 1952 and is originally from Barcelona, left the DGT upon Mariano Rajoy and the Partido Popular taking government. When he left the DGT, Navarro went to Rabat as employment counsellor at the Spanish Embassy in Morocco.
There is no doubt that his appointment will lead to drastic changes. Navarro has remained convinced that the number of victims can be reduced again. He believes that the maximum permitted speed on secondary roads must be reduced to 90 kilometres per hour and that a specific safety plan for motorcycles, for both riders and other road users, must be introduced.
Navarro also considers that a good road safety policy goes hand in hand with a “good mobility policy”. In a recent interview, he said how, “we have to talk about the way we move, to order to do it in a sustainable, reasonable and safe way.”
Currently, Navarro is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Pons Foundation, which is dedicated to raising awareness of road safety, social progress of business innovation, and the dissemination and defence of Intellectual Property, amongst others.