Driving in Spain

Driving a car in Andalucia or Spain is very similar to driving in other European countries, the only real oddity is the "turn right" to make a left, which can be found on many rural roads as well as busy city intersections. Big city driving does require a little time to get used to. The roads are reasonably well maintained. The following points should serve as a guide.

The law demands that:

  • Driving license, car and insurance documents, or in the case of a hire car, driving license and rental contract be carried at all times.
  • Seat belts are worn front and back at all times.
  • Less than 50mg/100ml of alcohol be in the blood (less than many other countries).
  • That wearers of glasses or contact lenses carry a spare pair.
  • Two warning triangles be carried.
  • A reflective vest be carried, and worn when leaving your car on motorways and country roads.
  • Do not use a mobile phone whilst driving unless completely hands off system.
  • Children under 12 are not permitted in front seats or on a motorcycle.
  • Radar detectors are illegal as is warning drivers ahead of a checkpoint.

Speed limits:

  • 120 km/h on motorways.
  • 90 km/h on other roads.
  • 50 km/h in towns.

Fines Offenders may obtain a 30% discount for prompt payment or may pay a policeman on the spot. Non resident tourists are usually fined on the spot. The fine may be a "garantia" so that you can continue you trip and you could then contest the fine later in court. One of the most serious offences in (southern) Spain is throwing out an object which could cause a fire. The fines for it are hefty and may even include imprisonment when people get killed in a fire you caused.

Signposts Signposting is generally not good and often inconsistent. Old signs are often not taken down when new roads make them redundant. This can lead to conflicting directions. 'Cambio de Sentido' indicates an opportunity to turn round. Keep cool, you will get there in the end.

Motorways Most of the major cities of Andalucia are now linked by two lane fast motorways. The toll motorways are from Seville to Jerez and Cadiz and from Malaga to Marbella, from Marbella to Estepona, and from Estepona to Sotogrande. These are all in very good condition and have low traffic density.

Petrol Almost all garages sell petrol at the maximum price permitted by the government. Most petrol stations are self service, many of the older ones are attendant service. Credit Cards are universally accepted. Tipping is unusual despite what you may read in many guide books. You always put petrol in first then pay at the desk, an exception to this rule may be at night. Before putting petrol you must not only cut the engine and the lights, but you need to switch off the radio and your mobile phone as well.

Driving Style Drivers are generally impatient. They will sound the horn if you delay starting at a green trafic light. Do not give way, out of politeness, when you don't have to, it won't be expected and will lead to confusion. Flashing headlights does not mean 'Please go ahead' it means only 'Watch out I am coming!'

By car