Driving in Spain - Some practical help
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Driving in Spain

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Yes we all know that they drive on the right hand side of the road in Spain but this is more of a guide based on our knowledge and experience.

Driving on the right when you are not used to it should not present a problem. You may however need to be extra vigilant driving off after parking on the wrong side of the road or particularly when joining a road from a single track road i.e. after any action where you have lost that "driving on the right" thinking.

There are certain items that you should have in your car whilst driving in Spain including:

- Two reflective triangles to use as a warning if broken down.
- Reflective jacket to be worn if you get out of your car on the hard shoulder of a motorway or major road.
- Spare light bulbs and fuses along with the tools to change them.
- An Insurance Accident Report form, to be filled in if involved in an accident.
- Matriculation card (vehicle id details) for the vehicle.
- ITV record Card (Spanish equivalent of the MOT)
- Receipt proving vehicle insurance (usually issued by a bank)

Speed Limits

- Generally 50KPH in built up areas but may be 40 or as low as 20 in residential areas or near a school.
- 90KPH on two way roads
- 100 or 120KPH on dual carriageways and motorways.
- Roads also tend to have speed limits for bends and advisory speed limits if it is raining (lluvia). In an area where it does not rain very often, it can be surprisingly slippery when it does rain.

Speed Cameras - yes they do exist in Spain but not in great numbers. I have seen mobile cameras sitting on a tripod and a new fixed one.
The fixed camera was not at all obvious, appearing to be a plain rectangular box, not much more than twice the height of the crash barrier. This particular one was near a dangerous junction which had clear speed limits.


There are two classes of roads in Spain that we would describe as a Motorway.
The Autovia - which will have an A designation (eg A-7), and the Auto Pista with an AP designation (eg AP-7).
There may not be a great deal of difference between the two, regulations are similar, though the latter is likely to have wider hard shoulders, longer acceleration lanes at junctions, and may be a toll road.

Toll Roads

Toll roads - some Auto Pistas in Spain are toll roads but signs directing you towards them will clearly indicate this with the word "Toll".
The cost will vary though we have generally found in 2008 that they work out to around 1 Euro per 10km. However, you may find that a particular Auto Pista does have not have a toll on its entire length, particularly near cities where it is busier (and it would probably be more of a problem to collect the toll).
The result is that on the AP-7 from Alicante to Barcelona for instance, you will only be paying a toll for approximately half the distance.

Other Information

Seat belts are compulsory for front and rear passengers.

It is quite normal for Spanish drivers to hoot or flash their headlights as a warning when they are about to overtake you.

Spanish drivers tend to follow very close behind the car infront so keep a good eye on the rear view mirror.

Some useful Spanish that you may see on road signs

  Peligro - Danger
  Obras - (Road) Works
  Direccion Unica - One Way
  Cuidado - (Drive with) Care
  Ceda el Paso - Give Way
  Aparcamiento - Parking
  Gasolina Sin Plomo - Unleaded Petrol
  Gasoleo A - Diesel for cars and trucks
  Gasoleo B - Tax free Diesel for non road use