Aug 30, 2015
To call driving in Spain an ‘experience’ would probably be the most accurate way of putting it. Now more than ever, families are taking advantage of the ferry service from Portsmouth and Plymouth to Spain (to Santander and Bilbao) and driving around Spain to view potential properties with the intention of finding their home in the sun. With the car in-tow, it’s not until they drive off the boat on the other end that it really hits home how different things can be for the average UK motorist hitting the roads abroad.
So while it’s something of a no-brainer that you’ll be driving on the right, what other things should you bear in mind when heading out to Spain with the kids, car and the whole caboodle?
First of all, Spanish drivers (or at least those in big cities) tend to be rather ruthless when it comes to carving up the roads. It’s just the way things are done over there and shouldn’t be taken as a sign of aggression – the best advice therefore being to always drive defensively and never fall into the trap of becoming angry and aggressive.
Speaking of aggression, don’t mistake the frenzied flashing of light behind you as a sign that you’re doing something wrong or dealing with a jerk. If you’re on the motorway, it’s actually required by law in Spain that drivers flash their headlights to warn drivers in front that they’re about to overtake.
As in most countries, speed traps are everywhere in Spain and the police are less-than forgiving when it comes to the odd few km/h over the speed limit here and there. If it says 80km/h, you’re better off keeping it around 75km/h rather than 83km/h, just to be safe.
The drink-drive limit in Spain is extremely low and just one small beer could see you way over the legal blood-alcohol limit. As such, the best advice is to treat the DUI rules as there being a blanket ban on drinking any alcohol at all before driving – these guys don’t exactly take kindly to those who fail breath tests.
If you’re taking your own GPS to Spain complete with Spanish maps, it’s of crucial importance that you also back it up with one or two paper maps and a good set of directions. You cannot make yourself 100% reliant on technology that might crash on you at any moment – especially if exploring regions where asking for directions is simply not an option.
If there is a solid block line in the road, you cannot overtake or move into the other lane. Likewise, you must always use your indicators when overtaking or changing lanes for any reason. Standard laws in the UK as well, but in Spain they tend to enforce them much more severely and you WILL get a ticket if caught.
Last up, be aware that even on open strips of motorway there are tons of variable speed limit zones and the police like nothing more than catching folk out who may have missed the signs warning of a slower speed restriction. Keep your eyes peeled at all times and have your passengers do the same…the more eyes, the better!