Life in Spain

Thu 5 Sep 2013

There seems to be a perception that driving rules and attitudes to driving in Spain are much more lax than the UK.
If you own a property in Spain and live here or are a regular visitor – and are an owner or regular car user here – then it’s important that you realise that this is not the case.

Just as in the UK, the police here have regular purges on speeding, so it’s important, as you drive around, that
you pay attention to the speed signs. This guide will hopefully help too –

· Autopista (motorway eg AP7 or E90, often toll roads) – max speed 120kph or 73mph

· Autovia (dual carriageway, eg A8) – limits vary from 80 to 110kph

· Carretera National (highways with road prefixes of C or CN) – speeds are as signed

If you are stopped for speeding, it’s likely that the police officer will also check to make sure you are carrying
all that is legally required. This is –

· Two red EU warning triangles

· Enough florescent jackets for the number of seats in the car.

· A spare pair, if you wear corrective glasses

· Current driving licence – a certified copy is acceptable

·  ITV paperwork – a certified copy is acceptable

· Vehicle log book – a certified copy is acceptable

Though not a legal requirement, it’s suggested that you also carry your road tax payment receipt and car insurance policy with receipt.

Additionally the police could well take note of other legal requirements –

· There must be nothing on rear seats (passengers apart). The logic is that shopping could roll off and
cause the driver to lose control of the car.

· All windows must be clean.

· The number plates must be visible and not mud splattered.

· The driver must not be using a mobile phone.

· The driver must not be using headphones or earphones.

· All occupants must be wearing seat belts

· Children, up to 12 years must be in the rear of the vehicle

· Babies up to 9 months old (weighing up to 10 kilos) must be in a carrycot across the back seat, secured
with car safety belts or other approved safety attachments

· The driver must be a minimum of 18 years of age

· The driver’s footwear must be substantial – barefeet, flip flops, and sandals are not acceptable

· As elsewhere, drinking while under the influence of alcohol is taboo, and government statistics tell
us that between 30% and 50% of all Spanish deaths in road traffic accidents are
caused by alcohol excesses. In Spain the legal limit is 0.5g/l blood or
0.25mg/l breath.

In Spain, traffic lights (semaforas) are more often than not situated at your stop line for the junction. So you can see them changing when you are first in the queue, there are smaller lights on the support post. An amber flashing light means you are approaching a hazard, such as a crossing. You can pass through this light with caution, if it seems to be clear to do so.

Laws for pedestrian crossings were not, until recently, as strict as those in the UK, where a driver is always at
fault, if a person is hit on the crossing. Now in Spain, you must step onto the crossing, and show the palm of your hand to any approaching vehicles. Unlike previously, drivers have to stop or run the risk of earning unwelcome penalty points on their licence. Drivers should be wary of British tourists who step out into the road having looked Right and not Left.

The final piece of advice is try not be smart. A Guardia Officer stopped me and said "Papers”. I replied "Scissors,
and that beats papers”.  I should be home by Christmas.


HelenArnold said:
Great article! Very informative. Only the one comment on the great "typo" in the last of the bullet points. "As elsewhere, drinking while under the influence of alcohol ............". Love it!
Thu 5 Sep 2013 13:09

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