Advice for driving in Spain: law, security and more

Nov 21 2013

Advice for driving in Spain: law, security and more

Spain covers a large area and a lot of tourists and expats like to see the country by hiring or buying a car and hitting the road. For those that are keen to do this, you need to be aware that each country has its own driving rules and if you’re not familiar with the country’s do’s and don’t’s – you need to be. Spain is no different in this respect, and this article aims to help drivers with useful tips and to inform what is expected of them driving in Spain to ensure a safe and enjoyable driving experience.

General Driving in Spain Advice …

Drivers in Spain are required to have two warning triangles in their vehicles in the event of a break down, this is to be placed at the front of the vehicle and another at the rear.
• Spain’s equivalent to the UK’s double yellow lines is continuous white lines along the edges of roads. Therefore, don’t park here.
• Children under 12-years-old must have a child restraint if they are to sit in the front seat.
• Priority: drivers approaching an intersection must give way to all vehicles on the right, while at roundabouts, drivers already navigating the roundabout have priority over drivers approaching or waiting at it. Meanwhile, drivers on secondary roads are required to give way to vehicles coming from either direction when entering a main road.
• Speed limits: Motorways and dual carriageways have a limit of 120 km/hr, while roads with more than one lane for each direction it is 100 km/hr and ordinary single roads have a limit of 90 km/hr.

• The drink drive limit in Spain is generally 0.05 per cent for drivers of most vehicles, though it can become stricter for persons in charge of larger vehicles and those that carry more passengers.
• It’s standard procedure for drivers that have been involved in accidents to be breathalysed by police.
• Any driver that refuses a breath sample may have their vehicle immobilised; get a one to four year driving suspension and could even be sentenced to six months to a year in prison.
• On the spot fines can be handed out for speeding offences, while fines paid within 20 days of the offence can have the penalty reduced by 50 per cent – but this is not available for major offences.
• Non-permanent residents are required to pay fines immediately unless they’re able to provide the name of a person or corporation in Spain willing to guarantee the fine will be paid. In instances like this when fines are not paid, the vehicle can be confiscated until the fine has been paid.
• Vehicles can also be confiscated if they’re deemed unfit for the road due to mechanical defects, contribute to excess noise or pollution or if the vehicle is not insured.

• Like many developed countries, Spain has a fairly high car theft rate (though it does fare better than many of its European counterparts).
• It may sound obvious, but never leave the keys in the ignition of the car. So many car thefts take place in places like petrol station forecourts when drivers leave the keys in and it invites trouble. Insurance companies are also not going to be sympathetic in these cases.
• Be security conscious: park in secure areas when available, lock the car doors, don’t leave valuables in plain view and use wheel or steering wheel clamps.
• Use of alarms, satellite tracking devices and immobilisers may put off potential thieves and make them easier to catch.
• Because it is a legal requirement in Spain that drivers must have their vehicle’s documentation at hand at all times, many car owners leave them in the glove compartment. This should not be done because there is an active market for vehicles’ documentation.

Vehicle documentation to have at hand
• As mentioned, it’s a legal requirement for drivers to have the vehicle’s documentation at hand at all times such as proof of ownership/V5C Certificate if you’re a vehicle owner or your rental paperwork if you’ve hired the vehicle.
• Full, valid driving licence along with your paper counterpart.
• Proof that the vehicle is insured.
• Proof of ID other than driving licence (passport).