Can you overtake on the right in Spain?

Can you overtake on the right in Spain?

How often have you been travelling on a motorway and seen another driving sitting in the middle lane or even circulating in the left most lane whilst there is no traffic in the right hand lane?

These “left lane syndrome” suffers, as they are known in Spain, cause traffic queues, sudden braking and sometimes accidents.   

The regulations

The driving regulations on Spanish roads do not allow you to overtake using a right hand lane, except in special circumstances mentioned below. Therefore, a vehicle in the middle lane is taking up two lanes and one in the left hand lane is blocking three lanes of traffic. Under normal traffic conditions in Spain, you should always be circulating in the lane furthest to the right-hand side. If there is a second and/or third lane to the left then these are used for overtaking. Once an overtaking manoeuvre is complete, you should return to the right-hand lane once more.

We have probably all come across a driver, travelling below the speed limit and using the left hand lane whilst there is no traffic to the right. This can cause the driver behind to brake suddenly causing a ripple effect with the vehicles behind or even more serious consequences.

Fines and loss of points

The driver continuing to drive in the left lane whilst not overtaking traffic is breaking the road traffic laws. If caught they could be fined 200 euros. However, before you decide to pass on the right you should be aware it is also a serious infraction of article 82 of the Road Traffic regulations. Overtaking on the right may result in a fine of several hundred euros and the loss of four points from your driving licence.

Exceptions

One of the few occasions you can pass on the right hand side of another vehicle is if you are in a traffic jam. If the lanes of traffic are moving slowly, it might be that at some stage the right hand lane moves slightly faster than the left hand lane. This results in you overtaking traffic using the lane on the right hand side of a motorway, for example. This is not an infraction of article 82 but does depend on the density of traffic and speed.

Another example might be on a slip road when entering the motorway or when a certain lane is designated for a particular type of vehicle to circulate.

Remember, you should circulate in the right hand lane unless you are overtaking another vehicle. Additionally, overtaking on the right is a serious traffic offence that can result in a fine and loss of points on your licence.

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.