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Tips for Driving in Spain

By: Tracy Whitelaw - Updated: 27 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Tips For Driving In Spain

With Spain being one of the top tourist destinations for UK travellers, it’s no surprise that many UK residents pack up their car and make the journey to Spain as part of their holiday. With plenty of places to tour, lots of scenery and a number of excellent restaurants to stop at, Spain can be a great place for your first driving tour abroad. If you do decide to take your car, there are a number of important rules you should familiarise yourself with before heading off.

Essential Tips for Driving in Spain

In order to drive legally in Spain you must have your full UK licence and be at least 18 years of age. Similar to many other countries in Europe, Spain has a legal driving age of 18, so you can’t drive there aged 17, even if you have a full UK licence. You are able to enter Spain’s borders fairly easily if you have to hand, all your paperwork. These include your registration papers, insurance document, driving licence and passport. Always remember to drive on the right hand side in Spain and of course overtake on the left. There are some mandatory items that you must carry in your car when travelling in Spain – a spare tyre and toolkit to change the tyre; two red warning triangles; a reflective vest and a set of bulbs and tools to change them. If you don’t carry these items, you may be hit with a hefty fine.

As in most European countries, it is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving in Spain. Even if you see many locals doing so, don’t be tempted. They have a higher accident rate there than in the UK and losing focus for only a moment is dangerous. Any children under the age of 12 must be seated in the back of the vehicle unless the front seat is fitted with an approved child restraint. You should also wear your seatbelt at all times and fit headlamp converters if you’re using your UK car to travel around Spain.

Speeding Laws in Spain

Spain has around 10.3 road deaths per 100,000 of population which is far higher than the UK average of around 5.5 deaths per 100,000 of population. It’s essential that you obey the speed limits in Spain to prevent yourself and others from injury. The general speed limits are:

  • Motorways – 120 km/h
  • Major Highways – 100 km/h
  • Open Roads – 90 km/h
  • Built Up Areas – 50 km/h
  • Residential Roads – 20 km/h

The drink driving limit in Spain is lower than in the UK and you are only allowed 50mg per 100ml of blood. It is highly recommended that you don’t partake in any alcohol if you’re planning to drive as the fines can be severe. You could face imprisonment or a hefty monetary fine, so it’s better to steer clear at all times.

Road Rules in Spain

Many people are familiar with the local road rules in Spain even before they attempt to drive there themselves. If you’ve vacationed in Spain before, you may be shocked at how many mopeds and motorbikes there are, especially when they’re weaving in and out of the traffic. Always be on alert when driving and look out for specifically Spanish rules such as some of those outlined below:

  • If you have a breakdown and need to get out of your car, you MUST wear your reflective vest
  • Jumping red lights is fairly common. Try not to break too hard as a light turns to red or you may be rear-ended
  • Never leave any valuables in your car
  • Leaded petrol is no longer available in Spain
  • Give way to the left unless otherwise signed – remember this on roundabouts
  • Don’t wait in the middle of the road to turn left if there’s a solid white line
  • If the pavement is painted yellow, do not park there
  • Toll roads are common in Spain – keep loose change handy

Common Courtesy Driving in Spain

As tempting as it may be to start driving like a local, stick to sensible defensive driving while travelling through Spain. If you are involved in an accident you must provide your personal details to the other individual and wait until the police arrive. You need to obtain a police report and contact your insurance company to let them know what has happened. Don’t panic and try and explain as calmly as possible what has occurred. If you don’t speak Spanish, there’s normally someone available who can speak English.

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