Attention: Don’t look at the trailer!

Loads carried by automobiles are classified by their danger. Driving with certain elements merits extra safety measures

Text: Alberto García

A number of films have had a vehicle as protagonist. From those famous ‘road movies,’ in which the characters depend on a trip that conditions and complicates their lives, to the films that make an automobile more prominent than any human face. Two near-sacred examples: Duel (from 1971, and shown in Spain as El diablo sobre ruedas) and The Wages of Fear, from 1953. The former, originally a TV film and the first full-length picture directed by Steven Spielberg, became a cult thriller. The latter is one of the best works by the French director H. G. Clouzot, who regularly made suspense films.

shutterstock / Zaiets Nelia

The mission of the workers in this second film is to transport a load of dynamite over a road full of dangers. Any problem can put their lives at risk –as the title suggests– but they’ll receive a big payday if they deliver the cargo. Applying this story to Spain, we might consider how these kinds of activities work. And we’d reach the conclusion that neither of the two movies applies: in this country, the regulations are clear about the kind of load, and in what conditions it can be transported. The distinction begins by stipulating if it is by highway or railroad, and describing the trailer, as well as if it is a domestic or international journey to which international agreements might apply.

In this case, the most recent regulations, from 2017, stipulate that “gases may be transported in deposits or fixed bottles of fuels, directly connected to the motor or the auxiliary system, or in transportable pressurised recipients that conform to the appropriate regulations.” Width, height, weight or type of trailer are under the auspices of the legal rules of the Ministry of Public Works, which also sets the speed limit (10 km/h less than the rest of traffic.) In this case, let’s let fiction surpass reality.

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