Spain imposes new speed limit in energy-saving bid

Drivers throughout Spain were forced to slow down on Monday as a new speed limit took effect aimed at cutting fuel consumption in response to the spike in oil prices due to unrest in the Arab world.

From 6:00 am Monday, the maximum speed on motorways was 110 kilometres (68 miles) per hour instead of 120 kph, a restriction that is to remain in place for at least four months.

Transport ministry workers overnight placed new "110" stickers on some 6,000 speed-limit signs across the country, and radar traps were updated.

Those exceeding the limit and driving below 140 kph are subject to a fine of 100 euros. Those driving faster than 140 kph will face a 300 euro fine.

Some 69 percent of Spaniards disapprove of the measure, according to a poll in the El Pais newspaper.

Spain's two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso has also blasted the new limit, warning that it will be "difficult to stay awake" at this speed.

The government announced Friday it was lowering the speed limit on motorways as of March 7 as part of measures to reduce the country's fuel bill in response to the rise in world oil prices due to unrest in the Middle East, particularly the upheavals in Libya.

Alongside the lower speed limit, Spain will cut the price of commuter and short-distance rail tickets by 5.0 percent and increase the proportion of bio-fuel used in diesel and gasoline from 5.8 percent to 7.0 percent.

Spain is almost completely dependent on imported fuel for road transport, although a fifth of its electricity output is generated by wind power, and the spike in oil prices has added to pressures on inflation and the trade deficit.

Each increase of 10 euros in the cost of a barrel of oil adds some six billion euros ($8.3 billion) to Spain's annual energy bill, according to government calculations.

World oil prices shot higher Monday, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, hitting $106.82 a barrel - the highest level since September 2008.

vg-wdb/mm

 

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