This guide is to help non-Spanish drivers understand the rules of the roads in Spain, including Spanish road markings, what to expect from other motorists, police etc. For information about motoring law in Spain – including which documents, accessories etc you must carry in your car, you should read our guide to Spanish Motoring Law.
In Spain you should drive on the Right! – That’s the easy bit!
It is illegal to pass on the right (or “undertake”) in free-flowing traffic. On motorways you must indicate before overtaking, only overtake on the left, and indicate again before pulling back into the nearside lane.
You must give way to traffic approaching from your left, especially at roundabouts!
You must not cross a solid unbroken white line in the road. Unbroken white lines are common and it is illegal to cross them. You will see them on major roads – telling you that you cannot change lanes.
At slip roads on motorways – you must not change enter or exit the slip road until you reach the section where the white line changes from solid to broken.
You will also see them at some road junctions – telling you that you cannot turn left. This is often the case when you want to leave a fast or major road by turning left. In these cases you must continue to an exit point on the right – flyovers and underpasses are common on major roads and these must be used.
Road names that begin with an ‘AP’ are toll roads. You have to pay to use them – but they are a good option – especially when you first arrive in Spain. They have less traffic, road signs are better, and you won’t have to deal any strange and confusing junctions. The toll system is simple. You just join the road, and every so often you will reach a toll- booth where you pay a small fee. The further you drive, the more toll-booths you pass, and the more you pay. You don’t pay as you enter or leave the toll-road.
Speed Limits on Spanish Roads
Speed limits vary considerably, and although the Spanish seem to ignore them completely – foreign drivers should be careful. The traffic-cops love fining foreigners! Observe the road-speed signs. But below is a rough guide.
* Toll roads, motorways 120Km/h (75mph)
* Other major roads 90 – 100 km/h (55mph)
* Built-up areas 50km/h (30mph)
* Residential areas – check the signs but often as low as 15mph.
If You Are Stopped By The Police – On the spot fines:
If you are stopped by the police on a major highway – you MUST put on your yellow reflective jacket BEFORE you exit the car. If you don’t, the police will fine you! For most minor offences, foreign drivers will receive on the spot fines. If you don’t have the cash to pay them, the police may escort you to a cash machine! If you still can’t pay – they may impound your car. If it is a rental car, you may be arrested and detained until payment can be sorted.