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.

9000 drivers caught driving unsafe vehicles in a week

9000 drivers caught driving unsafe vehicles in a week

A vehicle in poor condition not only increases the risk of accident to its occupants but it is also an added danger to other road users.

In just one week 9,471 drivers have been denounced by the Guardia Civil agents for driving with their vehicle in an inadequate condition.

180,000 vehicles checked in 7 days

During the seven days of campaign, 183,838 vehicles of all types have been checked (cars, motorcycles, vans, trucks, buses …) and 10,121 offences were identified.

The purpose of the latest campaign was to check that vehicles were in a safe condition to be circulating on Spain’s roads. Specific focus was on safety measures such as tyres and vehicle lights and up to date ITV.

The proper maintenance of the vehicle is essential in road safety, especially when the average age of the vehicles in which the fatalities of interurban road accidents were traveling in 2018 was 13 years for cars, motorcycles 9.7 years and 14 , 6 years in the case of trucks up to 3,500 kg.

Immobilized

During the seven days, 169 vehicles were immobilized at the time of carrying out the control, among them, 52 trucks, 49 vans and 58 cars, because the conditions of the vehicles with which they circulated did not meet the minimum guarantees for them to do so safely.

Among the most important deficiencies that the agents have found on the road is vehicles circulating with an expired, unfavourable or negative ITV. This resulted in 4,457 offences.

tyre car insurance spain

Tyre pressure

Another of the essential safety elements are the tyres. 539 drivers were identified to have been driving with tread depth below the legal minimum of 1.6 mm; having irregular wear due to bad suspension or incorrect alignment or circulating with the wrong tyre pressure.

414 drivers have been sanctioned for faulty lights. 211 received fines for a damaged or visually impeded registration plate. In addition, another 773 drivers have been denounced for not carrying the mandatory documentation of the vehicle (driving licence, driving license and ITV card).

Excess weight

In respect of larger vehicles, 277 trucks and vans were found to be circulating with a weight greater than that allowed for the vehicle in question and another 216 circulated with an incorrect load conditioning.

Source: DGT

A reflective jacket and two warning triangles

If you break down in Spain, you should try to stop the vehicle out of the way of the traffic flow as much as possible. Put on your reflective jacket before stepping out of the car. That means your jacket needs to be reachable from the driver’s seat rather than rolled up into a ball and stuffed underneath the small tool kit and the oil can you have in the boot. The glove box is usually a good place to stow it.

You should organise setting out your red warning triangles. One should be placed fifty metres behind your broken down car. If the road is a two-way road rather than a motorway for example, then the second red warning triangle needs to be placed fifty metres in front of the vehicle.

This will warn vehicles coming from both directions that there is a problem ahead.

Ring your car insurance company in Spain for roadside assistance on your mobile phone. Tell them the road you are on and try and if on a motorway in which direction you are travelling. Most breakdown services offered by car insurance companies in Spain will arrive within the hour.

If you do not have a reflective jacket or warning triangles, then you could be fined by the police. This is more likely to happen on a motorway where the police are normally monitoring the traffic flow and can quickly identify a broken down vehicle. Their main intention will be to get you moved to safety and the traffic flowing freely again. However, failure to have the correct equipment in the car may lead them to add to your mechanical woes with a ticket for non-compliance with the road traffic laws.

Although not a legal requirement you might also want to consider buying a flashing warning light.

Nearly all policies include some form of accident and breakdown recovery as standard.

Easter Traffic Operation

Easter Traffic Operation

With the start of Holy Week holidays for millions of citizens, the DGT started the first phase of the special Easter traffic operation.
 
The purpose was to order, regulate and give security to the 3.9 million long-distance journeys that will take place during those two and a half days.
 
Last year, 31 people were killed and 159 others were injured in Holy Week.

Extra vigilance for your protection

To avoid accidents, the DGT will deploy all the means at its disposal:
 
The first of them, the presence of more agents on the roads. There are an extra 400 civil guards on traffic duties. Last year there was a total of 8,800. This year a total of 9,200 traffic agents.

The 216 cameras that DGT has installed on the roads to control the use of the seatbelt, will also be used to systematically control and report the manual use of a mobile phone while driving. As can be seen in the image, the cameras capture the use of this device, so that any driver that is caught by this means will be denounced with a penalty of 200 euros and a penalty of three points deducted from their licence.

264 camouflaged vehicles that will travel along the roads and will monitor compliance with the traffic regulations, with special emphasis on monitoring the use of the mobile at the wheel. Plus

The eye in the sky


To monitor compliance with speed limits, the 724 fixed speed control points will add the 557 mobile radars that go in vehicles of the Traffic Group.

From the air there will be 10 operational helicopters and 8 drones prepared to monitor and regulate the roads.

Intensification of alcohol and drug controls In the last Easter Week, 4 out of every 10 people that died had used alcohol above the permitted limit. The rest of the year the percentage of positive is 1 in 4.

All these means are aimed at preventing accidents, since distractions, especially the manual use of the mobile, speed, alcohol and non-use of the seat belt are the main causes of road deaths.
 

100 died because of the imprudence of others last year

As a consequence of these factors, more than a hundred people die in a traffic accident, who were in compliance with the regulations and who had a correct roadside behavior, but because of the imprudence of others, their lives and those of their associates were cut short.

Seatbelt and child seat police campaign

Seatbelt and child seat police campaign

The Dirección general de Trafico (DGT) currently has a campaign to monitor use of seatbelts and car seats underway.

Statistics show that use of seatbelts could reduce fatalaties in road traffic accidents by a further 25%.

Despite the well-known safety benefits of using a seatbelt there are still an element of the population that don’t use them. If they are fitted in the rear seats in Spain then they must also be used.

Details of child seats in Spain can be found here.

Reduce the danger to you and others if you breakdown with a help flash warning light

Help Flash

Have you ever thought that if you broke down that putting out your warning triangle 50 metres behind and in front of your car might put you in significant danger?

Well, a Spanish company called Netun Solutions are marketing a product that could take that concern away. Help flash is a safety light that you can store in your glove compartment and bring out when you breakdown or have an accident.

It is magnetic so can be stuck on the top of the car.  Once in contact with the metal it will automatically display an orange flashing light. The light is visible for up to a kilometre away.

Although not specifically designed for disabled or pregnant drivers the benefits are obvious. Placing a warning triangle fifty metres behind and/or in front of your vehicle is all the more difficult for people in these situations.

help flash promotional video

The light is weatherproof and is powered by a 9v battery. It has up to two and a half hours battery life, which is much more than it usually takes for a breakdown truck to rescue you.

help flash complies with the vehicle regulations in Spain and is a recognized danger signaling device.

The law hasn’t done away with the warning triangles yet. However, it is now up to the driver to decide whether it is safe to leave the vehicle and place the warning triangle 50 metres behind the vehicle. If the driver is not convinced it is safe to do so then he can put his Help Flash light on top of the vehicle and stay inside with seatbelts fastened.

Motorbikes don’t have warning triangles but they could use help flash

It is also possible for motorcyclists to use the product. They of course don’t have warning triangles. The light can be attached magnetically to the bike or a crash barrier at the side.

The product is available to by directly from the company and it is also available on amazon.es

Aquaplaning

Aquaplaning car insurance spain

During the winter months Spain can be subjected to some very heavy rain. On some occasions. rather than a prolonged consistent rainfall it can be quick and torrential with a huge amount of water falling in a very short space of time. Weather a downpour or a steady stream of rain the result can be standing water on roads, which is an obvious danger to the motorist.

It might seem obvious but in wet conditions the first thing you should do is reduce your speed.  The vehicle grips the road through the tyre and when the road is wet the tyre has less adhesion to the road. The result is it takes longer to slow down. So reduce your speed and remember to respect the distance between you and the vehicles in front. If it is going to take longer to slow down, then the gap between you and the vehicles ahead should be increased.

How does aquaplaning happen?

One of the problems of water on the road is that it can accumulate in front of your tyres and build up quicker than the tyre and weight of the vehicle can disperse it. The result is that a layer of water builds up under the tyre and you lose contact with the road. The problem is enhanced the faster you are driving and the deeper the water but there are also other factors that influence the possible chances of aquaplaning which we will come on to. Further danger occurs when you suddenly come across a puddle which can be difficult to see.

If you lose contact with the road surface due to aquaplaning, you will hear the engine noise increase and the wheels will start spinning. This can be particularly dangerous if you are cornering as you will begin to skid. If the vehicle has slid and the tyres regain traction, then the vehicle may suddenly jolt as it corrects its trajectory to the direction of the tyres.

How to recover from aquaplaning

If you start to lose control of the vehicle due to aquaplaning and you are travelling in a straight line, then ease off the accelerator to give the vehicle a chance to regain grip of the tarmac. Trying to change direction may cause the vehicle to slide. If you need to brake, then do it calmly as the vehicle could become unstable.

If the phenomenon occurs whilst you are turning or you start to skid, then take your foot off the accelerator and despite your natural reactions, turn the steering wheel gently in the direction of the slide as this should help you regain grip.

Once you have recovered control of the vehicle pull in somewhere safely and catch your breath for a few minutes.

How to avoid aquaplaning

As always the best advice is to avoid the situation in the first place. If there is a lot of rain do you need to drive your vehicle at all?

Reduce your speed.

Increase the distance between you and vehicle in front.

You can also reduce the chances of aquaplaning by ensuring your tyres are roadworthy.  Worn tyres will be more susceptible to aquaplaning. Under inflated tyres can also increase the problem, so you should check tyre pressure regularly.

Speed limits change on Spanish roads

In the spring of 2019, the speed limits in Spain will change.  The Law is being passed that will see a simplification of the current speed limits. The change will mean that cars, motorcycles and buses will be limited to 90 kph on conventional roads, whilst all other vehicles must travel at a speed of no more than 80 kph. An exception will be where the conventional road has a physical separation between to two opposing flows of traffic. In this case, the maximum speed limit will be 100 kph for cars and motorcycles.

You can exceed the 90 kph limit in a car or motorcycle if you are overtaking a vehicle on a conventional road. In fact, you can increase your speed to 110 kph to overtake but then must fall back to the speed limit. The idea is to allow swift and safe overtaking, however, you can only exceed the normal speed limit if the vehicle you overtake is not driving already at 90 kph. If the vehicle in front is doing 80 kph for eaxmple you can temporarily exceed the speed limit. If the vehcile in front is already doing 90 kph then you have no right to increase your velocity to overtake.

On a motorway, there will be three speed limits. Cars a motorcycles will continue to be allowed to travel at 120 kph. Trucks and vans will be restricted to a maximum of 90 kph. The remainder of vehicles will have a maximum limit of 100 kph and this includes buses.

The reasoning behind the reduction in speed limits relates to the Directorate deTrafico (DGT) goal of further reducing the number of road deaths. There are numerous studies linking speed with road deaths. This amendment to speed limits is estimated to reduce the number of casualties by a further 10%.

Accidents on conventional roads is twice as high as those on motorways so it seems logicalthat this is an area the DGT look at.

Sweden recently reduced the speed limit in their country from 90 kph to 80 kph which saw a huge 41% reduction in road deaths.

It is also worth noting that the speed indicated on the sign is the maximum allowed and is not necessarily a target.

Have you seen a speed limit in a square sign with a blue background? Well this sign is used to recommend a maximum speed limit. This is not the same as the round sign with a red border which indicates the maximum you are allowed to travel at. The blue background is a recommendation.

How has driving in Spain improved in the last 40 years?

This year Spain celebrates the 40th year of its constitution and the Directorate General de Trafico (DGT) has been looking back over that period at the evolution in numbers of traffic and how road deaths have fallen.

In 1978 the new constitution for the country was approved. That same year 6,967 people died on Spanish roads.  The number fell significantly when the wearing of a helmet on a motorcycle was made legally compulsory in 1982. However, that improvement disappeared as by 1989, the worse year on record, road deaths had reached 9,344.

In 2017 the figure was down by 83% to 1,830 but the DGT is not content. It has been running a campaign for a while now with the aim of reducing the number of deaths to zero. Is it realistic? It is an honourable objective and if not possible, if the authorities are aiming for that figure then surely we will see further improvements.

Over the years a number of factors have helped reduced road deaths. The authorities made ABS braking system compulsory on cars. They set up a commission  to specifically look at road safety. Points were added to driving licences and taken away for infractions, which perhaps surprisingly only started in 2006. Tougher penalties are in place for speeding.

In 1978 there were just under 9 million vehicles on Spain’s roads. By the end of 2017, this had grown to almost 33 million. Whilst last year saw a small increase in the number of road deaths the drop of 83% over this time is still quite an achievement bearing in mind the huge increase in the fleet of vehicles on the roads.

Perhaps one factor that may have contributed to the small rise in deaths is the age of the vehicles. In 2005 the average age of vehicles on Spanish roads was just 6.7 years. In 2007 the economic crash hit Spain and it hit hard. Many people haven’t seen any real growth in their income since then and the average age of vehicles has risen to 10.8 years. Newer vehicles have better safety features. However, many ordinary motorists are not able to take advantage of those.

Speeding is still the main road traffic infraction but surprisingly not wearing a seat belt also features highly, even nowadays.

Vehicle manufacturers and Government can introduce measures and police them but ultimately we all have a responsibility to ourselves, our families and other road users to use our common sense.

Tougher law for using mobile phones in Spain

Tougher law for using mobile phones in Spain

The Government of Spain is currently looking into changing the law related to using a mobile telephone whilst driving.

It is already an offence to manually use a mobile telephone whilst driving. This will incur the withdrawal of three points from your driving licence.

However, if a draft reform of the traffic laws is passed then this offence will see the removal of six points, double the current penalty.

The reform also seeks to clarify the offence by stating that using your hands to search a device, text a message or answer a call will be an infringement of the road traffic laws.

The new law will extend to all types of devices, including navigation systems. An offence won’t be incurred where these devices can be operated without the use of your hands. Devices that give verbal instructions and that are operated by voice will be ok.