*The haphazard Spanish Driver… (Five tips to survive driving in Spain, unless you’re of Italian or French descent, in which case you’ll be as a duck takes to water…) * Excerpt from “An Expat’s Guide To Falling In Love” (Not to be taken seriously!)
Road safety in Spain takes on a whole new meaning and can be just as complex as learning the actual language, despite the supposed universal driving codes. Among the many motoring ‘peculiarities’ you will encounter as you try to comprehend and attempt to stay safe on the Spanish roads are a total lack of lane decorum making you doubt which side of the road you’re meant to be driving on in the first place (for the record, it’s on the right). Traffic signs are treated as optional in most cases, accelerating through amber lights the norm, and driving the wrong way up one-way streets or simply backing up in reverse for a kilometre quite the thing. Anything goes when it comes to parking, illegal or not. The same can be noted for the reckless spontaneity adopted when overtaking fellow drivers, achieved, more often than not, without the use of mirrors or indicators.
Does this sound familiar? Then read on. Take notes if and when necessary.
- To stay on the safe side, and prepare yourself for any hell-bent driving you may (will) come across, deem all drivers as totally erratic and drive warily (your future grandchildren will thank you for it).
- Driving in main cities can be absolute bedlam: Not recommended for inexperienced drivers. Make sure your insurance is up-to-date, the accident rate for foreigners is quite high.
3. When driving at night, especially in rural areas, watch out for bicycles, donkeys, and horses and carts without lights. Motorists should also keep a keen eye out for pedestrians, especially elderly people, who tend to walk across the road without looking. Or just walk in the middle of the road.
4. When cruising along country roads, don’t be deceived by the quiet lanes. It can get pretty scary, especially when a vehicle shoots past you at the speed of lightning, overtaking you and the five tractors in front of you all at the same time.
5. Watch out for the dreaded ear-splitting motorcycles and mopeds which are a hazard to everyone’s health and safety and break most noise pollution limits.
That said, not all Spanish drivers are inept or loco and driving in Spain can be a pleasant experience… sometimes, particularly when you’re using rural roads, which are relatively traffic-free (except for those five tractors and the donkey).