Monday, 17 June 2013

Driving needn’t be a Spain in the neck

 

Driving abroad isn't easy. New roads, unfamiliar landmarks, strange place names, different signs and road markings, plus you'll be driving on the other side of the road.  Check out my driving tips to take the pain out of Spain.

 

By law, foreign tourists only need one warning triangle but I recommend carrying two. In an accident or breakdown the police may impose a fine if only one is produced, because carrying two is the law for Spaniards. If you do break down, place your warning triangles in front of and behind the car. Motorbikes don't need them at all.

 

While it isn't mandatory to carry a reflective jacket in the vehicle, and as a foreign motorist you can't be fined for it, if you break down on a motorway or main road you and your passengers must wear a reflective jacket. You must also carry a spare tyre, or a tyre repair kit and the equipment to change the tyre. If you wear glasses, you should keep a spare pair in the car.

 

As with most of Europe, the drink drive limit is lower in Spain. Bear this in mind and if you're going to drive, just don't drink. New drivers are effectively forbidden to drink and drive, with a very low limit of just 10mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

 

Parking in many towns is controlled by blue zones (zonas azul) where a disc must be displayed, and never park on main roads with continuous white lines along the edge.

 

Always carry your driving licence, vehicle registration document (V5), and insurance certificate. If your licence does not incorporate a photograph, carry your passport to validate the licence. If the vehicle is not registered in your name, carry a letter from the registered owner giving you permission to drive.

 

Only fully hands-free phone systems are allowed – the use of earpieces or headphones while driving is banned. If you do use any of this equipment you face a fine of €200.

 

As with all long journeys, bear in mind the following points to keep your car happy and healthy all holiday. Check the water, oil, brake and steering fluid before you go, and keep an eye on them throughout your trip. Make sure your tyres are in good condition and properly inflated. Keep an eye on your fuel gauge, and schedule petrol stops into your trip. It's better to be over-prepared – if you get stuck in traffic will you have enough to last you? If you are unfortunate enough to get stuck in traffic, don't sit with the engine off and the aircon running. You risk flattening the battery.

 

And please make sure the driver gets plenty of rest. No siesta in the Fiesta, as they may or may not say in Spain

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