Road safety, Spanish traffic regulations and information about
in Madrid # Driving in Barcelona # Driving in Bilbao # Driving
in San Sebastian # Driving
in Murcia #
In Spain People drive very fast on motorways and dual carriageways. Furthermore
some roads are in a bad way. Although in theory the speed limit is 120 km/h there
are often cars travelling at 160 km/h or more. The Civil Guard (Spain's equivalent
to traffic police) are using speed cameras more and more. They have multiplied
on many Spanish roads especially on motorways where mobile speed radars are placed
in unidentified cars which are used to catch drivers breaking the speed limit.
- Lorries. There are a lot of heavy vehicles on Spanish
roads. Large lorries drive from Northern Spain to the South and from the East
to West of the country. This makes traffic very dense (especially at weekends
and bank holidays). They create problems when overtaking and are the cause of
many traffic jams, especially on the toll-free national roads and highways.
- Defects in road surfaces and road maintenance can
make driving on some roads hazadours - especially in parts of south-west and northern
Spain. Although road maintenance has improved over recent years, the quality of
road surfaces is still very variable and drivers should be prepared to deal with
uneven surfaces, narrow lanes and frequent diversions or hold-ups due to roadworks.
- The contrasts in climate between Spanish regions can make
long drives quite a challenge. The temperature can go from hot to cold in a short
space of time, and during the Winter while some people are bathing on parts of
the Spanish Mediterranean coast, other people are skiing down snow-covered mountains.
Bear this in mind if you are going to set out on a long journey, check the weather
forecast and be prepared.
- Penalty points licence system.
The high number of accidents has forced the Spanish government to change driving
laws and at present driving offences such as speeding, drink driving, mobile telephone
use in cars… lead to points being taken from your driving licence.
Crossings. Spanish drivers do not usually stop at zebra crossings unless they
accompanied by traffic lights. Take care when approaching one in your
car if there are cars behind your vehicle, because if you do what you are supposed
to do - i.e. slow down and stop to allow pedestrians to cross - you are liable
to be hit from behind or to have an irate driver shout and blow his horn at you.
If you are a pedestrian waiting to cross, never ever start crossing until you
are sure that vehicles on both lanes (if there is more than one) have stopped
for you to cross.
- Distance between vehicles. Maintain
the distance set down by law between your vehicle and the next one in order to
avoid collisions caused by sudden breaking (common when overtaking lorries when
there is heavy traffic). Reduce your speed and increase the distance between vehicles
if it is raining or there is a wet road surface.
at night. Stop driving at once if you feel sleepy and rest until you are ready
to continue. Also, make sure you have the necessary equipment available incase
you are forced to stop on the hard shoulder of the motorway. In Spain it is compulsory
to carry in your car a spare set of lights, enough fluorescent jackets for all
passengers, a traffic triangle and, in snowy areas, chains.
vehicle checks. If you purchase a car in Spain then bear in mind that your
vehicle will be subject to maintenance checks at an official ITV centre after
4 years if it is a new car then every 2 years rising to every year for cars over
10 years old.
- Driving and Alcohol. Do not drive if you
have been drinking. Wine can flow during meals in Spain, so if you have enjoyed
a relaxed lunch or dinner, don't jump into your car straight away. Have a siesta
or take a taxi
- Avoid key days such as local fiestas or the
beginning and end of seasonal holidays. Look at a Spanish work calendar and
check bank holidays in order to try to avoid the busiest days on Spanish roads.
Bank holidays vary from region to region in Spain. Many Spanish families have
holiday homes and take advantage of local and national holidays or long weekends.