Driving in Spain
I want to make this short and sweet.
Firstly, here is a scary fact. In the twelve months of 2008, 3,100 people lost their lives in road accidents. I can’t find any later statistics but thankfully I think the trend is downward. The major TV channel TVE 1 in Spain dedicates air time to traffic accidents, especially in summer, over festival periods and long holiday weekends, called ‘puentes’ .
There have been campaigns by the Government to bring to people’s attention to the effects of drink driving and the use of seat belts and the introduction of penalty points for traffic offences in the last few years have tamed some people. But, if there is one thing the Spanish in general don’t have the manaña attitude to, it’s driving. They like speed, to overtake anywhere (the more dangerous the better).
I’m no perfect driver, in fact I think I have picked up a few bad habits since driving here and I know I have seen some really bad driving in the UK and NO LADIES I am not pointing the finger at you BUT here, where I live, there doesn’t seem to be any rules and the police seem to be very good at turning 2 blind eyes. I mean, I have never seen so many people stop where they like, put on their hazard lights and double park! No thought for the danger, the inconvenience for other motorists or the fact that they have just blocked at least 2 parked cars in.
Go to any Supermarket or Centro Commercial and take a look in the car park. I don’t know why they bother painting parking bays as the trend is to abandon your car and take up two spaces rather than park it.
You don’t see it so much now but one of the craziest and most dangerous things I think I saw when I first arrived was the family of 3 and sometimes 4 all on a moped. Father has his helmet on and sod the rest of the family, kids in the middle and Mum holding on at the back for dear life!
I’ll get off my high horse now before I tempt providence and go and have a car accident myself. I must admit, I have already been involved in one but it wasn’t my fault, no one was hurt and my insurance company covered the total cost. Mind you the other driver wasn’t happy as his insurance claim meant his premium would be going up, he therefore started to threaten me but that’s a story for another day…
What should you look out for when driving in Spain? Well apart from the above.
For some insane reason (just my opinion) some people from the UK still want to bring their car over to Spain. I have friends who have done so and say they have no problems driving a right hand drive car here. That said; not one of them doesn’t have a number of dents on their cars.
I considered doing the same because I really loved my car and I lost an awful lot of money when selling it! But having visited Spain a lot before moving here and with my experience of driving a hire car around Jerez when we first found the town, I knew that my pristine car wouldn’t stay that way very long.
If you are considering bringing your right hand drive car from the UK, make it legal in Spain. That becomes one big headache because it involves an awful lot of paperwork if you become a resident (which you will be, if you stay longer than 6 months) Check that your insurance is valid, again a headache and if you become a resident you must put the car on Spanish plates and pay an import tax. This is something a lot of my compatriots either neglect to do or just don’t know they are obliged to do.
If you are going to buy a car in Spain, be careful if it’s a private sale, especially if you don’t yet speak good Spanish. Take a translator and study the documentation and make sure everything is genuine and up to date. As this post is about driving, I’ll do another post on buying a car at another date as this entails a lot of paperwork, which is why a lot of folks buy from a dealer who will do all the paperwork for you!
Other important points are:
In Spain you always need to have with you, your Driving Licence, car purchase documents and car insurance together with a bank receipt that shows that the insurance premium has been paid.
If you are a non EU citizen you must obtain a Spanish Licence. You cannot exchange your home country licence for a Spanish one. You can get advice from the Spanish Consulate in your home Country. Better still, there is a wonderful Reference Book that covers every single aspect of the legalities and motoring in Spain. I have a copy of the first edition and it is now on the third edition.
The link is HERE and I must disclose if you purchase through this Amazon link I stand to make a small commission.
Hey, I’m not trying to force you to buy it but I highly recommend it and you won’t end up paying any more for your purchase but you will help me keep this blog an ad free zone.
And take a look here to see there are worst places in the world to drive than Spain!