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Spain - Driving
Driving regulations are strict in Spain and there are penalties for those who are caught breaking the law. Traffic offences fall into three categories – minor, serious and very serious. Drivers can have around 6 points removed from the licence depending upon the offence. Speed cameras are common in Spain and some are equipped to alert the local law enforcement officers if a motorist is caught driving too fast in a foreign-registered car. Foreign drivers who are not officially resident in Spain can be fined and have to pay this on the spot or risk having the car immobilized. There are plans to install these cameras across the country. All drivers start with 12 points on their licence although a good driving history can see this rise to 15. Points are removed when an offence is committed.
A child under the age of 12 must sit in the back unless they are more than 150 cm tall and all children under the age of 3 need to have a safety or booster seat. If there is a dog in the car they should have a harness on.
Drivers should be aware that there is certain documentation which should be carried at all times. These include the driver’s licence, passport or residency card, the registration document for the car, the inspection certificate and the receipt for the road tax. It is recommended to carry proof of insurance, although in some areas this is no longer required by law.
There is also a certain amount of equipment which drivers are required to keep in their cars. Drivers who do not comply may be fined by the police or fail the ITV roadworthiness test. These include a reflective vest which is needed for any person who breaks down on a motorway or main road. A warning triangle is essential and cars registered in Spain should have 2, while cars from other countries are only required to have one. A spare tyre and tyre changing equipment are required and if a driver needs glasses then a spare pair should be kept in the car.
If you are involved in an accident then you are obliged to stop and help others if they are injured and ensure that there is no danger to anyone involved. If there are injured people or the road cannot be cleared then the police should be called.
As in other countries there are different types of roads in Spain. On a motorway the signs are blue as they are in the UK. The speed limit on a motorway is 120 kph although in some areas this may be reduced to 110 kph, although this is clearly marked. Emergency phones are available on the motorways and are positioned normally every 5 km. Each exit has its own number. Motorways are toll roads and the cost of the tolls varies as each has a different pricing structure. When you start your journey you take a ticket this is handed in to the toll booth at the end of the motorway where you make your payment. There are toll booths which allow automatic payments, with baskets registering coin payments and booths which take debit and credit cards. Those who use the motorways on a regular basis are able to purchase a ‘tarjeta de la austopista’, which allows savings of both money and time.
Dual carriageways (autovias) do not have toll booths and the speed limit is 100 km per hour. Main roads (carretera) have a 90 kph speed limit. Regional roads have white road signs and in built up areas the speed limit is 50 kph. Some residential areas have dropped the limit to 20 kph.
Drivers should be aware that some railway crossings have no barriers so care should be taken when using them and some mountain roads are not used during the winter months for safety reasons. Some regions of Spain have made snow chains compulsory in winter.
Drivers who have 0.5 grams of blood alcohol per litre are considered to be over the limit. New drivers are subject to lower levels of control. This can cost the driver 6 points from their licence. A driver can be stopped and breathalysed at any time. All drivers who have been in an accident will be tested.
There are four rush hours (horas puntas) in urban areas. 8 am till 9.30 am, 12.30 pm till 2 pm, 3.30 pm till 5 pm then 6.30 pm till 8.30 pm. In the larger cities a traffic jam (atascos) has been known to last all day and it is often the case in Madrid that it is not possible to drive at more than 20 kph.
Road standards in Spain are generally very good, with poorer quality roads only in very rural areas. Driving habits are also good due to the strict driving regulations. The number of accidents in Spain is on a par with those of other European countries. As with other nations across the world, the price of fuel in Spain is fluctuating all the time due to the global economy and other factors which affect the price of oil.
Direccion General de Trafico (Spanish Traffic Department)
Tel: + 34 902 508 686
Read more about this country
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