The Covid-19 lockdown meant that roads were practically empty for several months and restrictions on mobility considerably reduced the number of journeys once it was lifted. But, despite this, 2020 was one of the most profitable in the past decade for the government in terms of traffic fines in Malaga province.
Last year the national traffic authority (DGT) processed 229,383 offences on inter-urban roads and dual carriageways (councils are responsible for urban roads if they have a Local Police force). Not only is this the highest number since 2017, when there were 282,171, but it also represents a 64 per cent increase compared with the 171,905 from 2019, despite the effects of the pandemic.
So far, 2015 holds the record because 324,428 fines were issued by the Guardia Civil and the DGT through its radar devices during that year. That means that on average one in every 628 vehicles in Malaga province were fined, or to put it another way, a vehicle was fined every two minutes. With the exception of the Basque Country and Catalonia, where the regions handle traffic offences themselves, 3.87 million fines were issued on Spanish roads. By area, only Madrid and Valencia registered more than Malaga, with 479,703 and 271,766 respectively. The figure for Seville is similar (220,352) and further down the list are La Coruña (122,440), Balearics (108,023) and Cadiz (106,429).
Speeding is by far the most common offence committed by drivers in Malaga (with fines between 100 and 600 euros) because three out of every four fines (166,981 last year) were for travelling above the speed limit. Speeding is also behind 25 per cent of traffic accidents involving fatalities.
There were 21,084 cases of driving a vehicle with an overdue or failed ITV test (200 and 500 euros, respectively), 5,625 for not having insurance (1,500 euros if you are driving at the time this is discovered), 5,603 for not having a registration document for the vehicle or a licence (500 euros), 4,695 for using a mobile while driving (200 euros) and 3,423 for not wearing a seat belt (200 euros).
It is also notable that 1,513 drivers were fined (500 euros) for failing a breathalyser test, because this is one-third as many as in previous years and is due to the fact that many events were cancelled, nightclubs and discotheques were closed and there was a curfew for several months.
There were also fewer cases of people being fined for driving under the effects of narcotic substances, something which incurs a 1,000 euro fine: there were 427 cases compared with 769 the previous year and 1,104 in 2018.
In terms of dangerous driving, about 300 kamikazes are stopped every year on the wrong side of the road, something which results in a fine of up to 500 euros and can lead to two years in prison if particularly negligent or reckless. In 2020 there were 365 such cases.
Careless driving was also the reason 690 drivers were fined, while another 469 people were fined 200 euros for driving too close to the vehicle in front without respecting a safe distance.
Returning to the subject of excessive speed, it is true that the radars in Malaga province are a real gold mine as far as the public coffers are concerned, so much so that several of the fixed cameras are among those that result in the most fines in Spain every year.
The national leader in 2020 (and 2018) was the one situated on Malaga's eastern bypass (A-7) in the Almeria direction, the downhill stretch before the exit to El Palo, which caught 48,771 drivers travelling too fast.
Others which detect many speeding vehicles are the ones on the A-7 at Rincón on Malaga's western bypass just before the Carlos Haya tunnel.
On the network of inter-urban roads in Malaga province there are 54 radar devices of which 16 are fixed and another monitors a stretch of road. These oblige drivers to respect the maximum permitted speed over a distance of several kilometres. There are warning signs before all of them, but even so they detected 154,825 offences out of the 166,981. The other 12,156 were from the mobile radar devices which are moved around to different places in the province depending on the criteria of the DGT and the Guardia Civil's traffic department.
Some are also to be found on urban roads, like the four fixed traps in Malaga city and the two mobile devices used by the Local Police.