The DGT have started to use drones to monitor the traffic. After a successful pilot scheme in May, the drones will be introduced in Tenerife and Gran Canaria in the first two weeks of August. They will also be used throughout Spain on days known as Operation Salida o Operation Retorno when there are huge numbers of journeys too or from holiday destinations.
These drones are equipped with long-range, high-resolution cameras and are ideal for use in well-known trouble spots to monitor traffic and driver behaviour.
In addition to the drones, there will be at least nine helicopters patrolling the roads and motorways of Spain throughout the summer. Three of these are based in Madrid. With an increase in traffic movements, this means more use of the helicopters in the skies above us.
The answer depends on the child’s height and not their age. The DGT doesn’t recommend that children travel in the front passenger seat until they have reached 1.5 metres tall. However, the law stipulates they must be taller than 1.35 metres.
If the child is not taller than 1 metre 35 centimetres then they must sit in the back seats of a car in Spain.
There are three exceptions to this rule. One is if the car only has two seats.
Another would be where all the rear seats are already occupied by children 1.35 metres or less. In this case, they would be allowed to travel in the front passenger seat.
The final exception is when only two car seats can fit in the back. If you are carrying three small children and only two child seats can be securely installed in the back of the car then the extra child can sit in the front.
If a child is travelling in the front passenger seat, because of one of the exceptions mentioned above, then they must sit in a suitable rear facing child seat and the airbag must be deactivated. Depending on the make and model of car that might have to be done by a mechanic.
These rules have been designed to improve safety. If you breach these road traffic rules the authorities could fine you 200 euros and take three points off your driving licence.
What are the first thoughts that go through your head when you think about driving in Spain?
For some, there is a perception that it is a dangerous place to drive a vehicle.
I have lived in Spain for many years and I admit I still get frustrated by double parking, especially when there is a space available a few metres ahead. Also if you find that the person is sat in a café having dinner and has blocked you in your parking space. This also infuriates a lot of Spanish people but I’ve become more relaxed about these things. Someone stopping on a zebra crossing and chatting to their neighbours with the back half of the car protruding into the main road would have made me throw my hands up in despair about the potential danger to people trying to cross and the inconvenience I now have in trying to negotiate the rump of someone else’s car to continue my journey. Now it just provokes a sharp lift of the head and a slightly frustrated tutt. Then there is stopping to let someone out of the car without any indication and no intention to move to the side of the road to make it easier for other traffic to pass. This also receives a similarly much more composed response from me these days. But don’t be mistaken into thinking that only the natives drivers do this in Spain.
Whilst we all see things that seem to be dangerous and unnecessarily so, the statistics for Spanish roads are not all that bad. Perhaps it is because the things I’ve described happen in busy towns where traffic is unable to travel very fast and you come to expect the unexpected. But what about out of town?
Only this week a client was explaining to me how a flat-bed lorry sped round a country lane too fast and deposited its cargo on top of his car. Its cargo was a large cement mixing machine. It hadn’t been secured in the back of the lorry and the client was lucky to escape injury or even much worse. His car was not going anywhere after that accident though.
So what do we know about Spanish roads? All countries have black spots and most people can recall lanes or streets from years ago, from their own countries, notorious for close shaves or a series of terrible traffic accidents. Perhaps people had been calling for a road sign to warn drivers but nothing was ever done until a week after some poor soul had been killed.
What do the figures say about Spanish roads?
The latest figures I could find were from the Ministerio del Interior department Dirección General de Trafico and related to the year-end 2016. After the initial introduction by Gregorio Serrano López the Director General for Traffic the document states, with no time wasted “… a total of 1,810 people were killed at the time of the accident or within 30 days after its occurrence…” This is how road deaths are measured throughout Europe. If someone dies within thirty days of the road accident they become a road death statistic as their death would probably be as a result of the initial incident. It is a uniform measure used throughout Europe.
2016 was not a good year. The number of road deaths increased by 7% and the number of people that were hospitalized grew by 3%. The summer months of July and August are the most dangerous on Spanish roads, which is pretty logical bearing in mind the huge number of people going or coming back from holiday, national and international tourists alike.
Whilst 2016 saw an increase in road deaths in Spain the trend from 1989, the worse year since records began has been very positive. In 1989 there were 9,344 fatalities on Spanish roads but by 2013 the figures had plummeted to 1,680. In 2016 it was 1,810 people.
The number of vehicles on Spanish roads had surged by more than one million in the last decade. Possibly as a result of having suffered years of recession and austerity the average age of a car on Spanish roads has now reached 11 years whilst motorcycles are nine years. Back in 2007 when the financial crisis first bit in Spain the averages were 6.5 years for both cars and motorcycles.
So how does Spain compare?
In 2010 the Spanish mortality rate from traffic accidents was 53 deaths per million inhabitants whilst by 2016 the figure was down to 39 per million. The European average in 2016 was 51.
In fact, Spain has the fifth lowest fatality rate in Europe. It’s mortality rate is as good as that of Germany and better than France, Italy and Belgium. It only lags behind Sweden, the UK, The Netherlands and Denmark in terms of road safety.
The safest roads are Spain’s motorways. Clearly, with everyone going in the same direction on a wide piece of tarmac this is not really that much of a surprise. Nor is the fact that traditional two-way roads between towns are the most dangerous. It is also not a shock that speed, alcohol and drugs are predominant factors in road fatalities.
Spain’s roads are nowhere near the worst and despite double parking, stopping in the outside lane on roundabouts to nip in the shop and buy cigarettes, and blocking zebra crossings outside schools to drop off your children, it seems these actions are irritating, dangerous even, but likely to only involve an inconvenience in most cases, a possible injury in other cases, a fatality rarely but probably a loud tutt from me.
That doesn’t mean I recommend you start doing those things but perhaps continued vigilance and a laid-back response, if any, is all that’s needed, but pay particular attention on inter-urban roads, please.
You have got a reliable car in the UK. You’ve had it several years and you have always serviced it. It has caused few problems, just new tyres after the usual usage and a change of wiper blades.
Now you are setting-off to start a new life in Spain. The car has been good to you. You have heard that second-hand cars are expensive in Spain (you are right!). You need something to bring the contents of your wardrobe, the kids’ bikes and the youngsters themselves right?
Well, you could use it to transport your family and a small amount of your possessions but you may also be paying a removal company, if you have plenty of things you want to bring with you from your old life.
There actually might be some initial practical reasons to bring it but long-term a UK car is likely to become a nuisance. If you need it to transfer everyone to Spain and the cost of the ferry and fuel makes more sense than plane tickets, then initially it could be practical. However, at your earliest opportunity take the thing back to the UK, if the cost of the ferry back again makes it worth it, and sell it.
Whilst it is true the price for secondhand Spanish cars, sporting both scratches and dents, are expensive compared to UK prices there are some very practical reasons to bite the bullet and buy a Spanish car. Even though the effort to wash them is too much for the some sellers.
Firstly, the price for UK cars in Spain is not good. The market is limited, you need to find someone who has decided that Spain isn’t for them and they want to return to the UK.
If you now reside in Spain, you have a limited time in which to transfer your car from foreign registration plates to Spanish plates. It is time consuming, expensive (taxes and fees) and many companies have been able to set up whole businesses just to deal with it all for you.
Secondly, when you give your partner a kiss, as you park at the side of the road, they have to take their life in their hands as they step into the middle of the road. A short trip to buy that freshly baked baguette or pan integral you so love, and could smell at 50 metres distance before arriving, suddenly becomes a lot more adventurous and potentially dangerous.
Thirdly, Although the road system has improved significantly since Spain joined the European Union and the motorways would probably be the envy of most drivers that travel up and down the UK (especially the M25) there are still plenty of examples of bad planning. If you live on the popular and busy coastal resorts on the Costa Blanca or Costa del Sol, rapid expansion and thirst for profit often overlooked the necessary thought for appropriate slip roads.
The result is many urbanisations and even towns have poor or dare I say it dangerous access to the main dual carriageways or motorways, often with little or no slip road. This means that trying to look left over your shoulder across a passenger seat, whilst wearing your seatbelt, at traffic hurtling at more than one hundred kilometres per hour becomes more than just a challenge. You might be sat stationery trying to judge when is a good moment to enter the flow from a speed of zero while other vehicles, including speeding forty-tonne trucks, whizz by.
Another thing to consider, are car parks. If you are going shopping or visiting your partner in hospital following an unpleasant shopping trip to buy a loaf of bread (see above) then you need to consider the inconvenience of car park ticket machines. You pull up snuggly next to the machine and you can see the flashing button that says “pulsar”. You can see it of course out of the passenger window. If you have someone with you it isn’t too much of a problem. Press the electric window button and ask them to press the ticket machine button and extract the ticket.
However, if you frequently travel on your own it means undoing your seatbelt, leaning across the passenger seat and stretching out of the passenger side window to remove the ticket. This of course has to repeated after paying for the time you have parked and leaving the car park.
People who live in Spain, generally, pay less attention to the condition of their car. You will see a lot of cars with dents and scratches, especially on each corner. Bumpers seem to be used by some road users as a parking aid rather than protection in case of a small error of judgement. You will definitely see some cars for sale that make you say involuntarily, “How much!”
However, you didn’t move to Spain because you thought your car would be in better condition than elsewhere, or cheaper. You probably moved to Spain for a lifestyle change. Well this is one of them!
One final but very important point. If you continue to keep a car on UK plates you are obliged to have an up-to-date MOT certificate and current road tax. Without them you may find you don’t have valid insurance. If you are now living in Spain, you should of course be in the process of transferring from UK plates to Spanish. If not, then you will need to take the vehicle back to the UK annually for an MOT (an ITV is not valid) and you will also need to produce some documentary proof of your insurance the get your UK road tax.
Unless you have a classic car, or one you just can’t bear to be without, then take your right-hand drive car back to the UK, sell it for a fair price and buy an expensive left-hand drive Spanish car which will eventually make your life that much easier you will begin to forget how costly it was.
With governments and people alike becoming more concerned with traffic pollution the new ITV in Spain means it is one of the first countries to adopt the new European regulations.
The emissions test is now more stringent and the new advances in technology will mean it is more difficult to fraudulently trick the tests, made famous by the Dieselgate scandal.
Within the new remit, the tests are able to evaluate the state of the ABS. ESP. airbags the odometer and other electrical systems.
Another change is that should your vehicle fail it was mandatory to re-take the ITV test at the same testing station. Under the new rules, it is possible to take your vehicle to be re-tested at another test station. You will need to bear in mind that many ITV centres allow a re-test free of charge.
If your vehicle fails the ITV test it will now be obligatory to show where any repairs were undertaken when you submit your vehicle for a second scrutiny. The idea is to be able to show this type of information in the history of the vehicle, provide greater transparency and reduce the possibility of fraud.
From now on you can submit your vehicle for the ITV test one month before the actual expiry date but still benefit from the full renewal period. For example, if your vehicle needs an ITV every twelve months but you do the revision after eleven months because it is more convenient for you, the renewal will be on the anniversary of the old test and you won’t lose a month. The idea is to give motorists more flexibility.
Driving in Spain has its obvious differences to the UK, for example in Spain we drive on the right. There are a number of other differences and one of those is how to use a roundabout.
In order to avoid frustration and getting angry with all those natives that don’t know how to negotiate a roundabout, take a bit of time to read this short article. If you drive like I did when I first arrived in Spain, then you’ll find out it could actually be you that is in the wrong!
First a similarity. The traffic on the roundabout has right of way and you must wait for a clear space before entering it.
When you want to leave the roundabout you must make sure you are in the outside lane in plenty of time to make a safe exit. If not then you need to go round it again rather than cut across other traffic. Do not atempt to leave a roundabout from any other lane.
Please be aware that a vehicle may travel in the outside lane right round the roundabout before taking an exit whether it be the first, second, third or fourth exit. For drivers from the UK this may seem like a strange thing to do but it is quite correct in Spain. The inside lane on a roundabout is to pass traffic that might be blocking the outside lane due to the amount of traffic, or an obstruction in the road they are exiting into, for example.
Try and think about a roundabout as a one way street which follows a big curve and with several junctions. Therefore, if you want to turn right off this one-way street you would put your vehcile in the right-hand lane. Remember to use your indicators if you change lanes or intend to turn right off the roundabout. It is not necessary in Spain to indicate your continuation around the roundabout, as you are continuing on the main route albeit one with a long curve. So unless you are changing lanes or leaving the roundabout there is no need to indicate.
Of course, there can be other problems that make negotiating a roundabout more difficult. Near where I live the roundabout is a favourite place to abandon your car and buy cigarettes from the nearby Estanco. Another roundabout, also closeby, has a bus stop where parents park their cars to drop off their children meaning that the bus has to block the outside lane. However, these types of inconsiderate behaviour occur all over the place and in all countries. It just calls for you to drive carefully and slowly and be aware of what the norms are.
If you are involved in an accident in Spain then it is best to know the procedures in order to avoid complicating or jeopardising any claim that you might have against another driver.
Firstly, if you are involved in an accident you must stop. Thinking, “oh well, it’s only a small scratch” and driving on could land you in trouble.
What to do if you have an accident in Spain
With your car insurance Spain policy you should have a form known as a ‘declaration amistosa de accidente de automóvil’.
This is a two part from where the drivers of the vehicles involved can complete their details and the circumstances of the accident. It is important to use a ball point pen and press hard so that the copy of the document can be read.
Being in Spain the form is usually printed in Spanish but below we have provided you with a copy in English. Obviously, if the other driver is Spanish and the accident occurs in Spain you can’t really insist they complete an English version, but it will help you understand what information to put where.
The ‘declaración amistosa’ should be signed by both parties and one copy given to each. However, if you are unsure what has been written or disagree with who is at fault then don’t sign it unless you are clear what it says and agree with it. Take a copy of the form and discuss it with your insurance broker or company.
The document is really important. Once signed you have basically agreed to what is on it. If later you want to add to the document or dispute it then it is very important not to alter your copy. You must add extra information on a separate sheet of paper. Remember the other party has a copy too, so yours must match theirs. If you alter it then you could cause yourself a lot of difficulties.
Call the police
You can call the police and they will make a report of the incident and clearly if someone has been injured you need to contact an ambulance.
If your vehicle is damaged you can contact your insurer’s breakdown service and get your vehicle towed to your destination, your home or a local garage depending on the policy you have.
If the other party is reluctant to complete a form or refuses to provide you with details of their insurance company note the car registration, the make, model and colour of the car. If no one is seriously injured and you are not in too much shock take a series of photos on your mobile phone showing the damage and vehicle positions.
If you or one of your passengers needs to attend hospital as a result of the accident, make sure you/they get a discharge certificate. If the police attend the incident try to ascertain whether it is Guardia Civil, or the Local Police and from which police station or town they are from so you can provide this information to your insurer.
If there are witnesses then get their names and contact numbers, although if the police are involved they will hopefully deal with this.
If as a result of the accident you feel it is justified to seek a claim for injuries suffered as a result of the accident, then either a court appointed doctor or a specialist private doctor can prepare a valuation report.
Please keep all receipts related to treatment as a result of any accident then these could possibly be included along with a claim for loss of earnings. Loss of earnings is calculated on the basis of the number of says you are forced to spend off work, with a calculation made based on your usual earnings.
In Spain it might be that after an accident, where you weren’t at fault, the other parties insurance company offers to carry out your treatment for injuries you suffered. The insurance company of the other party may send their appointee to assess your injuries and offer a programme of treatment. However, remember who they work for. Get independent advice on the treatment you need and the time you need to recover.
If you have any doubt, then talk to your insurance company or your insurance broker to ensure your best interests are being looked after.
The DGT (Directorate General de Trafico) has finished an exercise to grade the emissions of motorcycles, sidecars and quads. The majority (55%) will now fall into four distinct categories.
Zero emissions. This relates to battery operated vehicles or hybrid vehicles with an autonomy of more than 40 kilometres.
ECO. This category has been established for non-pluggable hybrid vehicles and for those that can be connected but have an autonomic range of less than 40 kilometres.
C. Vehicles that satisfy the homologation requirements for Euro stage 3* or Euro stage 4*.
B. A vehicle that meets the homologation requirements for Euro stage 2*.
With vehicles catgorised in this way municipal authorities will be able to adjust vehicle taxes to discriminate against those that pollute the most, for example.
It could also be possible for Cities such as Madrid and Barcelona, where pollution is a big problem, to only allow certain category of vehicles to enter the city centre.
If you would like to know what category your motorbike, scooter or quad there is this weblink but when we tried it the server was down.
It is totally voluntary but once you establish whether your vehicle fits one of these categories you can obtain a sticker which you can put on your bike. The stickers cost five euros from the post office.
The other 45% of similar vehicles are outside any of the four categories mentioned above.
*Euro stage 3/4/2 are regulated emissions standards introduced by the European Union at varies times. They are designed to reduce pollution.
Apart from the three largest chains of petrol stations, Repsol, Cepsa and BP there are other outlets including an increasing number of small chains or independent service stations, where you can fill up.
The larger businesses will offer you a whole range of things on top of petrol. There is usually a café, you can buy your gas bottles and frequently there is an overpriced shop too. However, if what you are looking for is fuel for your vehicle and you don’t fancy waiting for the shop assistant to finish making an expresso coffee for one customer, before serving the guy who is waiting to change his empty gas bottle for a full one then one of the more basic service stations might be the answer. They are often cheaper too, a lot cheaper.
They have recently been springing up all over. They don’t usually have shops, they don’t sell gas, nor charcoal. No one tries to sell you what is supposed to be the best olive oil in Spain when you are trying to pay, most don’t have a jet wash and similarly, a lot don’t have any staff. You can pay by credit card or cash.
If you visit one of these service stations without any staff and pay by cash you won’t get any change. However, if you pay by credit card and ask for thirty euros but can only put in 25 euros before your tank is full, then the card is only charged 25 euros.
There are two of these types of petrol station side-by-side where I live. One actually has two people working most of the day whilst the other is totally self-service. You can imagine which one is doing more business, because until we get used to the machines it’s nice to have some help. There are no other products to buy to distract the attendants. The prices are around 6 cents a litre cheaper than the larger chains and I have seen the difference at more than that.
I do wonder how these smaller petrol stations are able to sell fuel at far lower prices without the add-ons that go with a cafe or shop but they manage it. I don’t know, but it seems to me that the big guns must be making a huge profit if others can come in and undercut by so much, without any of the additional income from purchases that people might make at a large chain service station.
Most people realise that speeding is dangerous and is often the cause of lives being lost on the roads of Spain. This should of course be the main reason we respect the speed limits. Additionally, speeding can be very expensive in Spain.
I think it is fair to say that most people have exceeded the speed limit at some stage in their driving life time. May be it was just a lack of concentration, our mind wondering or because of a hectic lifestyle. Of course no one thinks they are going to be in an accident but the penalties might just make us think again about the speed we drive at.
In Spain you start with 12 points on your licence and if you are caught committing a traffic infraction you may lose some of those points. Alternatively if you continue to drive within the law you can gain points up to a maximum of 15.
On the left of the chart are the points you will lose from your licence. On the right are the fines you will receive. At the very top is a horizontal ist of speed limits. Below is a table showing that, for example, driving at between 91 and 100 kilometres per hour in a 50 kilometre zone will mean losing 6 points off your licence and a fine of 500 euros.