Driving on a motorway in Spain

Driving on a motorway in Spain

The motorways in Spain are pretty much free-flowing, except if you are travelling during the rush hour or near a major city.

The usual limit on a motorway is 120 kilometres per hour unless otherwise indicated. Sometimes, when approaching a slip road, for example, the speed limit may be reduced to 100 or less and also when crossing bridges. It is then promptly increased again after the hazard.

Driving on a motorway in SpainYou may also see the yellow-backed road signs which are put in place whilst works are being undertaken. However, being undertaken can be used loosely as some I have seen have been concreted in and show signs of fading. Nonetheless, they need to be obeyed.

Although motorways can be fairly free of traffic motorists need to remember the correct way of driving on one. Around towns and cities, they become notably more congested and it becomes even more important to remember the rules of the road.

For example, you should always respect the road markings and circulate in the farthest lane to the right. You will often see people driving in the middle lane for kilometres whilst not overtaking anyone. This is not correct.

If you come across someone hogging the middle lane then do not be tempted to overtake them on the right. As you approach they may become aware of their error and start to move across into your path. Besides, overtaking on the right is prohibited in the Spanish highway code.

Do not overtake on the right

Despite someone hogging the middle lane, you must overtake on the left so will have to move across two lanes to pass them.

Of course, this is what causes frustration because the driver in the middle lane is effectively blocking two lanes.

Remember when you change lanes you must always use your indicator. That means when you start your manoeuvre from behind the car in front you need to indicate. Then once you are in the lane to overtake you turn your indicator off. You put it on once again when you are a safe distance ahead of the vehicle you overtook to indicate you are moving into the right-hand lane again. You are using your indicator, in these circumstances, to show a change of lane. Once you have changed lanes you should turn off the indicator.

To sumarise, the right-hand lane is for circulating on the motorway the two lanes to the left are for overtaking.

Infractions that cost you points on your licence in Spain

Points on your licence in Spain

Drivers in Spain start with 8 points on their driving licence when they pass their test. So do those who have lost their licence previously and receive it back after serving their penalty.

After three years and assuming the driver has not lost any points the total increases to twelve. If you don’t commit any infractions for a period of three years the traffic authority will add two points to your total. After another three years, you can gain an additional point up to a maximum of 15 points.

Points are lost when a driver in Spain is caught breaking the road traffic laws. It depends on the seriousness of the offence as to how many, if any points are lost.

Probably the most frequent cause of a loss of points on your Spanish driving licence is speeding. If the speed limit is 50 kph and you are doing between 51 and 70 kph you will incur a fine but you won’t lose any points on your driving licence. However, if you are caught doing 71kph  in a 50kph zone then you will be fined and lose two points. Over 80kph and the points lost rises to 4 and then 6 for 91kph plus. Below is a table showing both the fine and the points lost. You may want to read more about Speed limits in Spain here.

Fines and points lost for speeding in Spain

There are plenty of other reasons you can lose points on your Spanish driving licence. Some of them are listed below:

Description Points lost
1 Driving with excess alcohol in the bloodstream. 4-6
2 Driving under the influence of drugs. 6
3 Refusing to give an alcohol or drugs test. 6
4 Driving recklessly, in the opposite direction or participating in illegal races. 6
5 Driving with equipment installed that prohibits traffic surveillance and radar detection. 6
6 Exceeding by 50% the time permitted to drive or taking less than 50% of the time for a rest as defined in the legislation for road transport vehicles. 6
7 Altering the tachometer or the speed restriction of a vehicle. 6
8 Driving without the appropriate category of licence. 4
9 Throwing objects into the road that could cause a fire, an accident or block traffic circulation. 4
10 Not respecting Stop, give way signs or traffic lights on red. 4
11 Improper overtaking. 4
12 Overtaking and putting cyclists in danger. 4
13 Changing direction where prohibited. 4
14 Reversing on a motorway or dual carriageway. 4
15 Not respecting the instructions from a policeman directing traffic. 4
16 Not maintaining a safe distance behind the vehicle in front. 4
17 Driving whilst using the mobile telephone, programming your Sat Nav, using headphones or other devices that may reduce your attention. 3
18 Driving without your seatbelt, or without appropriate systems of retention for children. 3
19 Driving whilst your licence is suspended or prohibited to use this type of vehicle 4

Speed limits in Spain

speed limits in spain

Once driving in Spain, especially on the motorways, you will soon realise what a pleasure it can be, compared to the congested motorways of the UK, for example.

However, in order not to spoil your trip, you will need to keep alert of the various speed limits. The fines can be large and will ruin most people’s day and may come accompanied by the removal of some points from your licence. In Spain, you start with 12 points on your licence. This can go up to 15 if you continue to keep out of trouble. If you are penalised for a traffic infringement then points can be deducted from the total you currently have.

Speed Limits in SPain
Infographic: DGT.es

For the main reasons for incurring a loss of points on your licence you can visit this article.

In urban areas, the maximum speed limit is generally 50 kilometres per hour unless otherwise indicated. On secondary roads, the speed limit depends on the width of any hard shoulder. So the maximum speed will be 90 kilometres per hour or 100 kilometres per hour. If you are travelling on a motorway then the speed limit for cars and motorcycles is a maximum of 120 kilometres per hour. Clearly, if there is a road sign indicated a lower speed limit or roadworks indicating a reduced speed then that signal takes precedence over the highway code norm.

If you are towing a trailer in Spain on a motorway then the maximum speed limit is 90 kph, if the maximum weight of the trailer is 750kg or less. If the trailer is larger then the maximum speed is 80 kph. On conventional roads outside of an urban area the speed limit would be 80 kph if there is a hard shoulder of 1.5 metres or 70kph if not.

The level of fine and penalty points lost will depend on the speed over the limit you were doing at the time and how quickly you are prepared to pay the fine. Here is a table that explains what the fine (multa) will be and how many points will be taken from your licence (puntos). Usually, the fine is halved if you pay within a short period of time, which is detailed in the penalty notice you receive.

Speeding fines in Spain
Infographic: DGT.es

 

 

Buckle up for the ride

wearing seatbelts in spain

The DGT (Direccion General de Trafico) recently launched its latest campaign aimed at people not using their seatbelt and also checking child restraint systems.

It seems that there are still a serious minority not wearing their seatbelt and the figures for last year are not encouraging. In 2017, 229 users of cars and vans that did not use a seatbelt died, 39 more than the year previously. It is said that using your seatbelt will half the chances of dying in an accident.

In the case of children, they are five times more likely to suffer serious injury if they are travelling without the property safety restraints.

These safety devices are not only a legal requirement but have been scientifically proven to save lives. So why do people still take these risks?

The authorities objective is to educate people not using these devices of their effectiveness. Pere Navarro said, “the belt is still, today, the single most effective safety device in vehicles. The DGT aims, with this type of campaign, to raise awareness of the importance of its use, both in adults and children, in front or rear seats, on urban or interurban roads, on long or short journeys. The belt and the SRI, always. There is no option. ”

The number of deaths in 2017 from the non-use of seatbelts and appropriate child restraint systems rose from 190 to 229 which is a worrying trend.

If you need some statistics to convince you why you should be wearing a seatbelt then here they are:

– The use of seatbelts and SRIs is mandatory for all occupants of a vehicle, on any route (either short or long) and on any road (urban or interurban).

– It is a basic and fundamental element of road safety and its use has saved thousands of lives. According to various studies of the European Union, fastening the seat belt when traveling in a vehicle would save the lives of more than 7,000 people in the European Union each year.

– Protects both from getting thrown out of the passenger compartment, as well as from hitting the windscreen.

– Its use in the rear seats is essential. In a frontal impact, the probability of a rear seat occupant fatally striking another passenger in the front seats is multiplied by eight.

– The belt reaches maximum effectiveness in rollovers, where the risk of death is reduced by 77%.

– Beware of the airbag: its use is not effective if it is not complemented by the use of the safety belt: both are designed to work in a complementary way.

– The occupants move at the same speed as the vehicle. For example, in a braking the vehicle stops, but the travelers move: a collision at 50km / h is equivalent to falling from a second floor.

– A frontal collision at 80 km / h without wearing a safety belt, usually results in death or serious injury.

Don’t play with children

The safety of a child will depend on the driver, as well as the use of the appropriate safety restraint. It is your responsibility.

In addition, drive calmly, respecting the road traffic laws, without being aggressive, maintaining the correct safety distance between you and the vehicle in front and adjusting your speed the level of traffic. This is the best way to protect the little ones.

In all vehicles, up to nine seats, including the driver, minors of less than 135 centimetres (regardless of age) should use approved child restraint systems properly adjusted to their height and weight and they must be in the back seats.

If you are found not to be complying with this law the road traffic authorities can immobilise your vehicle.

AESVI (Spanish Alliance for Child Road Safety) among its ten fundamental rules, it lists the following aspects

  1. In a vehicle, always carry the child in a restraint system suitable to its size and weight, however short the journey. Never, under any circumstances, leave the child alone or without supervision.
  2. Always use approved chairs, and if possible, opt for the more current regulations, since the security requirements are greater.

Check the approval label, in which the size must be indicated and / or the weight for which the product has been approved.

Source: DGT.es