Spain’s General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) is at it again. After passing a mandatory glove law for motorcyclists, government officials moved forward with a proposal to make airbags compulsory as well. Those efforts were met with resistance, however, sparking numerous protests among motorcycle enthusiasts.
The original airbag proposal dates back to July, 2019. Following Spain’s 350 motorcycling fatalities in 2018, the DGT has taken steps to reduce those numbers. On the other hand, many Spanish motorcyclists believe the agency is overstepping its bounds with the latest legislation. Luckily, in June, 2021, Spanish Minister of the Interior Fernando Grande-Marlaska announced that the country will forego the new law in favor of more research.
Spanish motorcycle groups such as Asociación Mutua Motera (AMM) helped turn the tide with public outreach. One AMM survey revealed that 65.5 percent of polled motorcyclists believed that personal airbag use should be voluntary, not mandated by law. Spain will also conduct a detailed accident review, at the request of several motorcycle associations, to determine the feasibility of airbags for everyday use.
Though airbag technology has come a long way in the past 20 years, not all situations call for such comprehensive protection. Of course, track riders and racers benefit most from the latest airbag units, but it may not apply to all road applications. Right now, the rider is free to determine if an airbag vest is necessary for a trip around the block or a trip around the world. Grande-Marlaska's decision reinforces that idea, for now.
Regardless of Spainish law, we encourage full gear (helmet, gloves, ankle-high shoes, full coverage, etc.) for every ride. As the motorcycle airbag market continues developing, future products will only become more affordable and accessible in time. We’ll have to wait and see if Spain tries to mandate airbag vests down the road, but until the technology gains mass adoption by motorcyclists, the DGT might be fighting an uphill battle.