A few tips to avoid problems while driving in Spain

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Business Car Manager released must-read tips for those who are driving to Spain

Driving to Spain - wide open roads, and plenty of football fans

Spain: it's huge, different, hot, and if drivers keep away from the coast, wonderfully peaceful

Driving around Spain has been revolutionised during the last 15 years or so. It's now perfectly realistic to pop down there and congratulate them on winning That Cup.

If people read about driving in Italy they will know that there are few precautions they should take before going all this way. Like Rome, Madrid is 1200 miles away making a round trip of at least 3000 miles (unless they take the ferry to Santander). So do the sensible thing and check that the car doesn't need a service, and the tyres are up to it.

What are the roads like?

Spain's network of roads has been transformed over the last 20 years or so with huge investments in infrastructure as a whole, and the motorways - Autopista - in particular. The toll roads - Autopista de Peajes - are excellent and with the exception of the E15 which follows the Mediterranean coast, pretty quiet. It's a big country, and most of its 47 million people live around Madrid or near the coast. Head into the middle, and find the place to oneself.

The mway speed limit is back to 120kph after the 110 limit imposed last year to conserve fuel was lifted

They're bang up-to-date with speed limiting technology too, and expect an on-the-spot fine if divers are tempted to put their foot down in all that emptiness. As elsewhere in Europe, radar detection devices, and Satnavs doing the same job, are illegal.

Leave the Autopista and drivers may still encounter some pretty rough surfaces.

Another peculiarity is that some of the older dual-carriageways have no on/off ramps as we know them - it's more like a T-junction. Keep these eyes pealed, and get smartly up to speed once it has been pulled out!

Things to remember

By law, foreign tourists only need one warning triangle but I recommend carrying two. La Policia like their on-the-spot fines and in an accident or breakdown may impose a fine if only one is produced, since two is the law for Spaniards. If anyone does break down, place the 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 drivers can't be fined for it, they must wear one if they get out of the car at a breakdown on a motorway or main road. They must also carry a spare tyre, or a tyre repair kit and the equipment to change the tyre.

As with most of Europe, the drink drive limit is lower in Spain. Bear this in mind and if someone is 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. Never park on main roads with continuous white lines along the edge.

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

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

A few odd ones

If driver wear glasses, he should keep a spare pair in the car believe it or not.
Always indicate when he change lanes - including pulling back in.
Never enter a road by crossing a solid white line - wait for the dotted bits.
Don't use the horn in a built-up area unless there's real danger.
Children under 12 must travel in the back.
As always, check that the business car insurance is valid in all the visited countries. And driver should let business car manager know where they are, even if they do own the business.


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Conrad Swailes