Driving in Spain
Coming from the UK and Driving in Spain if you have no experience, is not difficult, it’s just a small learning curve that given the time to exercise caution, you can master in a very short period of time. This page will give you some hints and tips and some general advice about the legalities of Driving a UK Registered Vehicle in Spain.
- Driving on the Left in a Right Hand Drive Car in the UK places the Driver to the Centre of the Road, when you are Driving on the European Continent including Spain, they Drive on the Right Hand Side of the Road. In a UK Registered RHD Car, this will place the Driver adjacent to the Kerb. Therefore to avoid Driving Accidently by habit on the Right (..and we have all done it!), just remember, if as the Driver you are NOT ADJACENT to the Kerb, you are on the WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD.
- Speed Limit Signs are all in KPH (Kilometers Per Hour), although speed limits vary slightly from Country to Country in Europe, most Roads and Motorways do have Speed Cameras, Unmarked Police Vehicles and other Speed Traps just like the UK. However, unlike the UK, if you are stopped, you will be required to produce a number of documents at the roadside, you may also be required to take a Breath Test and the Fine is likely to be payable on the spot. (See Legal Requirements further down the page). Therefore it pays to carry some Euros with you whilst driving.
- Most Modern Cars will have KPH displayed on the Speedo, however if you are driving an older vehicle that does NOT display KPH, instead of trying to calculate the speed in your head, firstly try and remember the following – 5mph = 8kph & 10mph = 16kph. With most Speed Limits shown in Multiples of 5 or 10, this will enable you to calculate speeds in your head more quickly. If maths is not your best subjects, most SatNavs will display your Route in KM and KPH. If you do not own a SatNav, there are a number of APPS for Smart Phones such as ‘Road Pilot’ that will show your speed in KPH.
The Road Traffic Laws obviously vary from Country to Country and you cannot be expected to know them all unless you are a frequent European Driver, so this section will give you a small introduction to some of the obvious differences and legal requirements.
- If in a British Registered Car, your car must be fitted with Headlamp Diffusers so that you do not blind oncoming drivers.
- If in a British Registered Car, a GB Sticker should be placed on the Left Hand Side at the Rear even if the Registration has a UK Blue Logo.
- Although not a Legal Requirement, remember to ADJUST your Wing Mirrors and Rear View Mirror to take account of Driving on the Right and not the Left!
- Being a Foreign Driver in a Foreign Car, most European Countries will require you to carry the following documents with you at all times.
- Full Current British European Photo Card Driving Licence with your correct Home Address – (The older paper licences are no longer accepted)
- Your Full Current British Passport.
- Your Vehicle Registration Document (V5C).
- If the Car requires an MOT, the current MOT must be carried in the Vehicle.
- The Insurance Document and/or Green Card Insurance for European Cover. This is normally for a Maximum of 90 days.
- First Aid Kit.
- Set of Spare Bulbs.
- Set of Spare Fuses.
- Two Warning Triangles.
- Vehicle Fire Extinguisher & Fire Blanket.
- Two Breathalysers. (Electronic Breathalysers can be used, however anything costing less than around £80 is probably worthless and you risk your licence).
- Fluorescent Waistcoats – Enough for each person in the Vehicle.
- Road Legal Spare Wheel/Space Saver Wheel or Temporary Puncture Repair Can, Wheel Jack and Wheel Brace & Foot or Car Battery Operated Pump.
- Seat Belts are Compulsory in Spain.
- Children under 12 must be seated in the back of the car unless the appropriate child seat is fitted in the front.
- The use of a Mobile phone for talking or texting is illegal in Spain, hands free kits are permitted but no earpieces are allowed.
- Drink Driving is a serious offence in Spain and Penalties can be severe.
- U-Turns in Spain are ILLEGAL unless there is a clear sign permitting you to do so.
- Reversing into side roads is ILLEGAL in Spain and you should continue in your direction until a roundabout or area designed for turning around.
- Most roads in Spain have a SOLID white line in the centre of the road – you are NOT permitted to cross that line into oncoming traffic.
- The one EXCEPTION to that rule is when a slow moving vehicle such as a tractor moves to the right and signals you to overtake, still use caution however.
- When you enter a road with a solid white line from a side road, if there is NOT BROKEN LINE you may NOT enter that road by crossing the centre line.
- When you enter a road with broken line from a side road, you may turn left or right according to your direction of travel unless Road Sign Prohibit the Turn.
- Overtaking areas are signified with a Solid White Line with an adjacent broken white line on the side of the road overtaking is permitted.
- When passing Pedal Bikes or Slow moving Mopeds/Motor Cycles, you are required to give at least 1m (3ft 3″) space when overtaking.
- On approaching Roundabouts in Spain, remember to give way to traffic on your left and use caution, many drivers to not indicate their direction of travel.
Sadly despite all the new regulations introduced in Spain since 2004 designed to reduce accidents and the death toll on the roads, many Spanish drivers still ignore even the basics such a signalling, speed limits, using their mobile phones, overtaking etc. and as you are sitting on the wrong side of the car, use extreme caution at Junctions, Roundabouts and when overtaking. That little bit of extra caution could prevent you from having an accident through no fault of your own and it will ensure you have a pleasant and safe holiday in Spain.