Foreign Drivers Above Gibraltar
By Leo Olivero
Foreign drivers using Gibraltar roads are sticking two fingers up to
local traffic laws and the legal system.
As we all know we have a daily large influx of foreign motorists
that are predominantly Spanish. This constitutes thousands of
foreign vehicles that enter Gibraltar each day, the majority of
which routinely flout traffic laws. Including those rules of the
road which local motorists have to obey, or risk being the next
entry into a police officers pocket book, with possible hefty fines
at the end of it all?
For many years there has been a blatant disparity of the law, where
local motorist have always bared the brunt and negative consequence
of committing a traffic infraction, or any other driving or road
Over the years there have been calls by local road users, for all
motorists who commit breaches of traffic laws to be treated the
same, regardless of their citizenship or wherever the vehicle is
registered. In many instances foreign motorists, again, I have to
say mostly Spanish; appear to think the laws of Gibraltar do not
apply to them!
EU Treaty makes it Possible to Collect Traffic Penalties - But
not for Gib!
The system as it stands makes it impossible for Gibraltar
authorities to pursue unpaid traffic penalties - like court and
parking ticket fines, this is because under current EU legislation,
Gibraltar like the UK has what is known as 'decriminalised driving
and parking laws' they are considered administrative and fall
outside the scope of both criminal and decriminalised EU legislation
This means that Gibraltar as is the case in the UK, which also has a
decriminalised regime, cannot use EU legal systems to pursue unpaid
financial penalties they have imposed on vehicles registered outside
However an EU treaty which came into force in 2007, made it possible
for motorists to be pursued for parking tickets and speeding fines
incurred in another EU Country.
Under the treaty agreed in Brussels. EU governments are able now, to
chase offenders for payment of any criminal (EU traffic) penalty
after they have returned to their home of origin.
It all means that drivers will not be able to dodge parking or
speeding tickets given abroad. All EU member states will be legally
bound to follow up unpaid fines if requested by another member
state. Although importantly, it only applies to fines over 70 Euros
- The country collecting the fine 'will keep the money' even though
the punishment was levied by authorities in another member state.
This is in total contrast to the many foreign motorist who commit
traffic offences in Gibraltar, who will continue to escape justice
and flout the law, because as I mentioned earlier, under the treaty
local laws like 'speeding fines and other traffic offences' are not
considered a criminal penalty. Another point being that in Gibraltar
we do not issue a ticket for speeding offences, another treaty
requirement, including the amount of the fine itself, which must be
70 Euros or over!
Spanish Drivers Commit Most 'Foreign Motorist' Offences
On most days Gibraltar is jammed packed with vehicles travelling up
and down our roads, parked in all manner of positions, foreign
registered vehicles make the bulk of our continuously congested
It would not be an exaggeration to say, that in many instances
traffic infringements are clearly committed by foreign vehicles,
although again, committed by Spanish drivers, this simple because of
the high volume of Spanish motorists crossing the frontier into Gib.
These foreign vehicles commit all manner of offences, parking,
obstructing, using mobile phones, vehicle defects are frequently
observed, even as they enter the frontier.
Although importantly and now on a 'road safety perspective' there
are many times when a Spanish registered vehicle has got away with
blatant traffic offences, where had it been any local motorist, they
would have been duly reported by police, and quite rightly so!
Foreign cars speeding, is another frequent feature on local roads.
Spanish drivers in particular do not generally respect 'zebra
crossings' and the rights of the pedestrian. There have been many
dangerous incidents that have been witnessed on local zebra
crossings, when a foreign driver has failed to give way to
pedestrian already walking on the crossing it self, with close
encounters between the vehicle and the pedestrian!
Another road safety issue is Insurance cover; it is also thought
that many Spanish drivers particularly from the nearby region
frequently enter Gibraltar when not properly covered by insurance.
This is a well known problem in Spain.
Do the RGP check foreign vehicles insurance documents, as a routine
road side safety exercise?
Local drivers are quite rightly angry at the situation, why should
foreign drivers get away with committing road offences on Gibraltar
roads. Fixed penalty or parking tickets are also a waste of time on
foreign registered vehicles, as by definition, they not appear on
the local vehicle data base and therefore cannot be easily traced in
terms of the registered owner."
Hundreds of Thousands of Pounds Lost in Fines!
The "majority" of foreign drivers escape legal action because police
officers and others are almost powerless to identify vehicle owners,
but more importantly it means that these foreign drivers are
ignoring the rules of the road. "If drivers know they cannot be
traced, they will not bother to obey the rules and that has
important safety implications for everyone using Gibraltar roads"
Apart from the fact that hundreds of thousands of pounds are being
lost in fines because of this massive loophole that allows foreign
drivers to be above Gibraltar laws!
Although to be fair, the Police are severely restricted in pursuing
penalties for the majority of driving offences committed by foreign
registered vehicles due to Gibraltar's inefficient laws and
different legislation requirements for outside our jurisdiction.
However, last year the United Kingdom introduced legislation
allowing foreign drivers who commit traffic offences in England and
Wales such as speeding, using a mobile phone, having a dangerous
vehicle and others - to be issued with fixed penalty fine.
Foreign drivers now in the UK face fines of £60 for using a mobile
and vehicles can be immobilised until a payment is made. More
serious offences such as tailgating (driving too closely behind
another vehicle) will carry an immediate fine of £300, while foreign
drivers found to have committed more than one offence face fines of
up to £900.
The new scheme was brought in under the provisions of the Road
Safety Act 2006. It received its national launch in Kent in April
last year. The scheme ensures that road traffic legislation is now
applied impartially to all drivers on UK roads.
This new law in fact provides that both foreign drivers and even
British residents who can not provide a valid address in Britain, if
having committed one of the specified road offences can pay in
pounds sterling or credit/debit card payment. Although if the
alleged offender can not pay the fine immediately, their vehicle can
be taken off the road until the payment is made.
Police can also take defective vehicles off of the road until they
are repaired and commercial vehicle drivers have not taken a rest
break if they exceed their permitted driving times. These tough new
measures mean that foreign drivers who break traffic laws in the UK
will not get away with it. However, in Gibraltar they do get away
with it, everyday in fact, compared to local drivers.
With busier roads more pedestrians and the high volume of traffic
coming from the direction of the frontier, it is vitally important
that this imbalance of justice against local motorist is addressed
without delay - some say 'it could even be a Human Rights Issue;
most things are now a day!
The creation of a European Union has done little to streamline
driving on the Continent. Borders may be open, but each country
adheres to its own rules of the road, with varied speed limits,
different lists of compulsory kits, and many wide-ranging pitfalls
for the unwary driver, laws certainly differ as you proceed along
European road network?
In Moscow for instance, it is illegal to drive a dirty car. In
Germany, running out of petrol on the autobahn is against the law,
and in France, scarily or dangerous vehicles joining the autoroute
have priority; however in Gibraltar the Foreign driver is given the
motorists dream welcome- the red carpet treatment for free - a
licence to commit offences at will and for free!
I'm sure the majority of local motorist would like to see a more
rigorous and fairer system in place, something that holds foreign
drivers to account.
Gibraltar must send a clear message that this blatant disregard of
our laws will not be tolerated!
When Gibraltar was the Costa's
By David Eade
I recently visited Málaga airport with its gleaming new terminal. A
major airport without doubt, the busiest in Andalucía and one of the
most important in Europe. Yet I have to say if you are dropping
anybody off or collecting them as I was it is a nightmare.
I compare that with the almost homely existing terminal at
Gibraltar's airport. I have to say it is my favourite airport for
flying from because it is never crowded and everything is just a
short walk away. I expect even with the new terminal Gibraltar will
be a happier flying experience than its neighbour up the coast.
I am musing on the two airports as I have just read a report on the
days when Gibraltar was the Costa del Sol's airport. I suspect there
were no rows then over the Rock's airspace or air traffic
controllers disputing jurisdiction. I gather though that the customs
on the Spanish border were no more user friendly then than now.
In the 1950s Málaga had an airport although airfield would have been
a better description. No gleaming terminals but rustic buildings. No
tarmac runway just a grass strip. The runway was too short to
accommodate the larger aircraft of the day and even those who did
fly the route often had to be diverted because bad weather
conditions would require the airport to close.
Down the coast at Gibraltar it was a different story. The much loved
and lamented British European Airways flew this route from the Rock
to London with some aircraft going via Madrid. Today, of course, BEA
is no more having merged with BOAC to form British Airways.
Hence anybody in the province of Cádiz or Málaga who wanted to fly
to the Spanish capital, go to London or use BEA's Heathrow's links
for onward travel to Dublin, Copenhagen, Amsterdam and so on had to
fly from Gibraltar.
BEA operated its workhorse the Viscount on this route. On arrival on
the Rock passengers for Spain then had to negotiate the customs
officials at La Línea. Once that challenge had been met it was on to
the BEA Road Service - a famous transport link of the era.
The BEA buses drove up and down the then very basic road to Marbella
where many of the tourists disembarked. The majority were British
and others travelled on to stay at one of Spain's first Costa-styled
resorts - Torremolinos.
All this came to an end after 1959 when a tarmac runway was laid at
Málaga airport and it was extended to 2,000 metres. State of the art
navigation equipment for those days was also installed and so the
Convair Metropolitans, DC-4s, Vickers, Bristols, De Havillands,
Viscounts and Comets started to touch down. The Costa del Sol was
born and the rest is history.
Yet without Gibraltar airport those first intrepid visitors to the
coast would never have arrived by air at least. So the Rock's
airport has a firm place in the history of the development of
Spanish tourism and the British holiday makers' love affair with the
Costa del Sol.
Gibraltar's National Dish
Telephone conversations between Cloti and Cynthia
Windy in Europa Point...
Windy! That’s what I say to el deputy Dawg Holliday.
My dear, and why would you go into the weather to describe him, even
if we don’t know what Patasjamon would say.
Mira, con lo calentita que estan las cosas el Holliday se planta en
lo alto de un hill en Europa Point to tell the world que el project
is on target!
I see, como si eso fuera lo mas importante del mundo. I get you now.
What you are saying es que esta out of touch with public opinion.
That’s it. Windy!
Mind you, con el wind que hace en Europa Point, levante o poniente,
cualquiera se sienta in the open air to enjoy a picnic!
Bueno, y del Alejandrito no vamos a hablar, porque bastante
problemas que tiene.
Y es que se ha convertido en un bricklayer con la muralla que quiere
poner on the way out.
Es que el pobre hombre has rubbed the Gibraltarians the wrong way,
and the reaction was to be expected.
Y que me dices de nuestro Mayor, anda peleandose con los
Shakespeares of our Gibraltar.
And I ask myself, quien manda en el Mayor de aqui porque la cosa no
esta para risas.
Lo unico positive son los ‘A’ results of our boys and girls, conque
que no lo estropee nadie.
Vamo lo que hacia falta, que llegue el Instituto Cervantes y nos
quiera cambiar el rumbo, cuando esta our youth on top of the world.
Es que el Cervantes se puede convertir en un nuevo Alejandrito - y
este estaria within our sovereignty y todo.
Bueno let’s keep our fingers crossed, porque I don’t want to get
crossed for now. Me voy al beach todas las tardes, after de los
summer hours, para olvidarme de todo, hasta de mi jefe en el civil
service who earns the uncivil salary of more than £100,000 - como si
le tocara la loteria once a year! Adio mi alma.