9 Aug, 2013 @ 12:10
1 min read

Staying safe on Spain’s roads

drive safely

ROAD safety charity the Institute of Advanced Motorists is offering weekly motoring tips from Britain’s top advanced driver, Peter Rodger.

• WHEN driving in Spain you are required to carry two warning triangles in your vehicle. In the event of a breakdown, they should be placed in front of and behind the car.

• If you require glasses for driving, you must keep a spare pair in the car.

• As with much of Europe, the drink drive limit is lower in Spain than in the UK. Bear this in mind, and if you’re the designated driver, it’s better to avoid drinking altogether.

• Parking in many towns is controlled by blue zones (zonas azul) where a disc must be displayed.

• Don’t park on main roads with continuous white lines along the edge.

• Children can sit in the front seat but they must be at least 12 yearsold, unless using a child restraint.

• Radar speed camera detectors are still allowed in Spain, but the authorities are considering banning them, so make sure you are up to date with the latest legislation before you travel.

• Remember that if you are driving through France to get to or from Spain, different road regulations apply, so it is important to be aware of them as well as those in Spain.

• Rest up before any long journey, prepare your car for the trip, andif you have a passenger, get them to remind you each time you set off that you should be driving on the right-hand side of the road.

• The Spanish police issue on-the-spot fines which can be rather hefty so make sure you get an official receipt if you find yourself on the wrong side of the law, so you have a reference in case you wish to appeal.


  1. Assume that the car on the right hand side of the road at the junction is going to turn left across you. And vice versa. Assume that any car NOT indicating left or right, is about to turn left or right. Or possible both ! Do not assume that the stationary car in the middle of the road ahead causing a long tail-back has had an accident, puncture, or has broken down. The driver is chatting with someone on the other carriageway. Horn warning signals are used to attract the attention of friends – see above.

  2. Top tips from me:

    At roundabouts, expect cars from any lane to randomly turn off at any exit.

    No matter what speed you are travelling at, the car approaching behind just has to pass you any way they can, by fair means or foul. Is it Fernando Alonso syndrome?

    Switch on your hazard lights and the world is your oyster. It is a licence to do anything you want – triple park, park on a roundabout or junction, stop in the middle of the road – no problem. It is a kind of hyperspace button really.

  3. Avoiding Spanish roads altogether is the best way to stay safe. Driving standards, esp the prevalence of speeding, are shockingly low. It’s no wonder Spain had one of the highest fatality rates in the Union before Hungary and Romania joined. Spain still leads in the EU rate of fatalities at or near designated pedestrian crossings…

  4. Usual load of Little Englander xenophobic bollocks. I would far rather drive here than in UK. I cannot speak for the rest of Spain, but in my area of Andalucía observance of pedestrian crossings is the best I have ever come across.

    Lesley, this is news to me. Can you provide a link?

  5. @ Bilbo

    In my little corner of Andalucia every car has a dent or two or three in it. I’m an ex police driver and I can tell you the standard of driving here is appalling, this is not xenophobic little Englander gonads as you put it but the plain brutal truth. Very rarely do Spanish drivers indicate, they roar out of junctions without looking or reverse at speed off their driveways. The concept of giving way is alien to most and as for sticking to the speed limit well you might as well tear all the speed limit signs down. In my village people constantly drive at 70 kph plus on a road that should have a 20 kph limit on it. My Spanish neighbours are wonderful but they are useless drivers.

  6. Peter,

    Thanks for the link re. payment of fines.

    Otherwise we will have to agree to differ. I drove about 60 miles return trip to work before I retired here, and both my wife and I had our blood pressure raised on a daily basis.
    Some of the faults you mentioned also pertain to the UK, and I have driven the length of that country, as well as Spain. I do very occasionally utter a few wee sweary words here, but nothing as compared to UK.

  7. I agree Peter. Crossings? what crossings. You have to presume every person is going to just pull out. But also there isn’t the road rage you get in the uk, as a driver could be right up to your bumper and flashing (to say get out of the way), then politely indicate to come back in. It’s a lot better driving over here just for that reason. And most of the time, the nice car-free Andalucian main dual carriageways.

  8. I’m quite surprised at some of the comments. I live in the UK, but come over to Spain each year for the winters, and have personally found the standard of driving far better in Spain. The only downside for me last year was when a dark BMW tried to get me off the motorway in Northern spain (carjacking perhaps – I didn’t stop) but that happens in other countries too.
    I particularly liked the way drivers would automatically pull out into the 3rd lane to allow you out of the 1st lane whenever you indicated. I tried the same when I returned to the UK – but NO CHANCE ! You have to force your way out.

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