Road Rules on Lights and Indicators in Spain


Posted and filed under Motoring in Spain.

If you have a problem with the lights on your car in Spain and are forced to drive with them not working properly, then you must reduce your speed until you can stop your car in an illuminated area.

Sometimes, drivers, have a bulb gone on their main headlights and then drive with the full beam lights instead. But drivers must realise that these lights dazzle other drivers, so they must be turned off when there are other drivers nearby. If the main headlights have gone, you can not continue driving because you
can not drive permanently using the full beam lights, it is not safe. You must stop and call for assistance.

Driver’s Warnings

1. Drivers are obliged to warn other users of the road about the manoeuvres that they will carry out with their vehicles.

Any change of intent, direction or lane must be indicated so that other users know what they are meant to do. The most common infractions in this sense are drivers who do not signal changing lane, when overtaking, both when starting and when they rejoin the lane, when leaving a roundabout and when leaving parking, the latter two being the most common.

2. As a general rule, these warnings will be made using the car’s signals or, failing that, with an arm.

Optical warnings

1. The driver must warn by means of indicators any manoeuvre that involves moving their vehicle laterally or backwards, as well as their intention to stop or slow down.

Such warnings shall be made sufficiently in advance of the start of the manoeuvre and should remain in operation until the end of the manoeuvre.

In case one of the indicators breaks, it can be replaced by arm signals, which will be valid if done properly and as long as they are visible to other users.

These manoeuvres are only to be carried out temporarily in the event of problems. As a general rule, you cannot drive a vehicle with the indicators not working, using an arm, as it is a sanctionable offence.

2. The following should also be taken into account:

a) The lateral movement will be advised using the indicator light corresponding to the side to which direction the car will be going, or the arm, (in a horizontal position with the palm of the hand extended downwards, if the displacement is going to be towards the side that the hand indicates, or bent up, also with the palm of the extended hand, if it is going to be towards the opposite).

In manoeuvres involving a sideways movement, the warning must end (so the indicator off) as soon as the vehicle has adopted its new trajectory.

b) Reverse gear will be warned with the corresponding reversing light, if available, or, if not, extending the arm horizontally with
the palm of the hand backwards.

c) When you are intending to stop the vehicle or to slow it down considerably, even when such events are imposed by traffic circumstances this should be advised, whenever possible, by the repeated use of the braking lights or by moving the arm alternately from top to bottom with short and fast movements.

When an immobilization takes place on a motorway or highway, or in other places or circumstances that it might be hard to see, the presence of the vehicle must be indicated by the use of the emergency lights, where appropriate.

Remember that if you break down and have to stop your vehicle on the hard shoulder, you must signal this by placing out the emergency triangles. One or two triangles according to the characteristics of the road.

Acoustic warnings

1. Exceptionally or when provided for by some rule of the legislation on traffic, motor vehicle traffic and road safety, acoustic signals may be used that are not strident. Their unmotivated or exaggerated use is prohibited.

2. Acoustic warnings can only be made by drivers of non-priority vehicles:

a) To avoid a possible accident and, especially, on narrow roads with many curves. On narrow roads where there are often two cars and there are bends that prevent the visibility of traffic in the opposite direction, a horn is usually used to warn of our presence to approaching traffic, with the aim of lessening the speed of the other car, making them stick to the right edge and vehicles can pass safely.
b) Out of populated areas, to warn the driver of another vehicle the purpose of overtaking.

You can sound the horn before overtaking a vehicle to inform the driver of your intention to overtake it so that it then stays to the right edge of the road.

When we want to overtake, for example, several vehicles over 12 metres, it is advisable to warn them of our presence so that the drivers of these vehicles, leave a greater safety distance between them that allows us to overtake safely. Knowing that you are driving behind, on one-lane roads in each direction, when it is possible to overtake safely, the drivers of these vehicles are able to warn you by right-flashing or by pointing their arm backwards and forwards. It’s a courtesy, but not obligatory.


The drivers of vehicles of the police services, firefighters, civil protection and rescue, and health care, public or private,
when they are driving in urgent service, can warn of their presence.

The vehicle-obstacle sign V-2 on the road can be used by any vehicle that, due to a fault or accident, needs to indicate its position on the road, making its vehicle more visible to other users.


1. It is forbidden to keep doors of a vehicle open, to open them before the vehicle has been completely stopped and open them or get out of the vehicle without having previously ascertained that this does not entail danger or hindrance for other users, especially when it comes to bicycles.

A vehicle’s boot is considered another door, for certain types of boot, it is prohibited to drive with it open or semi-open when transporting some type of cargo that prevents it from closing. In this case, people must place the load on the roof in a roof rack or look for another vehicle as all doors must be completely closed before starting the vehicle.

2. As a general rule, a vehicle must be entered and left on the side closest to the edge of the road and only when it is stopped.

Engine shutdown

1. Even if the driver does not leave their position, they must stop the engine whenever the vehicle is stopped inside a tunnel or in a closed place and during refuelling.

2. Any driver who is obliged to remain with their vehicle stopped inside a tunnel or other closed place, for a period of time exceeding two minutes, must interrupt the operation of the engine until they can continue the journey, keeping the position lighting on.

Inside a tunnel or inside an underground parking lot of a shopping centre traffic jams sometimes occur, either by accident or by a massive influx of vehicles (sales or holidays). In these cases, if we can see that the traffic is not moving we must turn off the vehicle´s engine until we see that vehicles begin to move.

Remember that not shutting down the engine but leaving at least the lights on can be a reason for being fined. We must make the car visible to other users, and turn off the engine will prevent the accumulation of toxic gases harmful to health in closed areas.

3. In order to load fuel in the tank of a vehicle, the engine must be off, plus the lights and electrical systems such as the radio. Devices such as mobile telephones should also not be used and off if possible.

Apart from being a reason for being fined, remember that at a garage you can be refused being served fuel if you refuel with lights on,
radio on or talking on your mobile.

If you have any questions about motoring issues in Spain, or changes of licences, ownership of cars, or changes to Spanish plates, please contact Gema: 


  • Scotty

    Are yellow fog lights illegal in Spain, where they would fail an annual ITV Test?

    • Jane

      Hi Scotty

      If your car is on English plates it should pass on lights, but if on Spanish plates will need changed.

      Kind Regards


  • Marc Andre

    Can aftermarket led lights be retrofitted on cars in Spain?

    • Nicola Ryan

      Thank you for your enquiry Marc,

      This would be a question for you local ITV centre.

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