A Reminder of the Road Rules in Spain


Posted and filed under Motoring in Spain, Newsletters.

A Reminder of the Road Rules in Spain

Yesterday I was helping the N332 group of Guardia Civil officers with something which involved reading quite a bit of the original Traffic law in Spain from the Dirección General de Tráfico (Government Traffic Department).

It struck me that many rules are ones that are so often forgotten by drivers on Spanish roads so I am going to remind you of them here:-

Maximum speeds in overtaking

On normal roads (but not motorways or dual carriageways), cars and motorbikes are allowed to overtake at 20 km/h over the standard limit, if the vehicle being overtaken is travelling below the speed limit, and there is no posted speed limit lower than the standard.  Remember that on a motorway or dual carriageway it is forbidden to overtake at 20km / h over the normal speed limit of 120 km/h. That is to say, everything that exceeds the maximum speed of the 120km / h on the road could receive a police fine.


It often happens that drivers who are driving and when they see the radar they step on the brake abruptly, sometimes endangering the vehicles driving behind. This type of braking is strictly forbidden, whether there is traffic there or not. Speed should always be progressively reduced.

Hitting a Car From Behind

Remember that as a general rule if you hit a car from behind, you will be responsible for the accident. We must always leave a sufficient distance that permits us to manoeuver in case of the vehicle in front of us suddenly braking, so we do not hit it. At any time, the vehicle in front could have an animal run out in front of it, or a child, or an obstacle in the road or there is an accident or something that causes braking. And if something happens that the there is a crash, we are demonstrating that we have not kept a sufficient distance to be safe.


Every day accidents occur in roundabouts, because the vehicle driving in the left lane decides to leave the roundabout directly from that lane, crossing the right lane, not respecting the priority of the vehicle that was driving in the right lane and colliding with it.

If at the time of changing lanes at the roundabout there is too much traffic in the lane you intend to occupy, and you can not do it, you should not stop the vehicle in the roundabout, obstructing the vehicles that are travelling behind, you should take another turn around the roundabout.

Remember that activating the indicator does not give priority over other vehicles, nor to change lanes. 

Leaving Motorways or Dual Carriageways

Remember that you must leave the motorway always from the right lane. There are cases of drivers who drive in the left lane and directly cut across and leave the highway from that lane, stopping the vehicles that are driving in the right lane.  This manoeuver is considered a serious infraction. You must leave the road from the lane located to the right.


Remember that the only justification of a reverse manoeuvre is when there is no other possibility of doing anything else. There are many cases of drivers who do not wish to turn around and so reverse several metres back with their vehicle to avoid doing any other manoeuvre, this action is not allowed. Reversing is only allowed when nothing else can be done.

A Stop

A Stop; this is an immobilisation of the vehicle for less than two minutes, without the driver being able to get out of the vehicle. The moment we get out of the vehicle, even leaving a person inside waiting, it is considered to be parking. We must take into account the difference between a stop and immobilisation because in some areas we will find that parking is prohibited but not stopping, as long as we do it following these instructions (Two minutes!).


Remember that if the street is two-way, you can not stop or park on the left side, since you would be doing it in the opposite direction of the vehicles.

Special attention should be paid to parking large vehicles on corners or crossings as they hinder visibility to drivers. Sometimes vans or caravans park in places that even though it is not forbidden to park there, due to their size they limit visibility creating risky situations to other drivers as they cannot see.In these cases even though these vehicles are allowed to park they should look for another parking.

Parking plates (Vados)

Sometimes you will see on the wall a plate saying that you cannot park here issued by the corresponding City Council, with the assigned plate number on the sign. Those plates not issued by the Town Councils that can be acquired in any establishment are invalid.  A “vado” is where you pay a small annual charge to the Ayuntamiento for the sign warning people not to park in front of your garage, driveway, etc.  Everyone can park on a street wherever they want if no restrictions for a long time, but sometimes vehicles get reported as abandoned and the police put a sticker asking a neighbour to move it, and if it does not happen for some time it may get seized. 

If a vehicle is in one spot more than 30 days then it can be reported. If the owners are spending months abroad the police view is that the car should be left in a long-term parking or off the road. The car can be considered abandoned if left on the road for months and is not really fair to other house owners, especially in busy roads. So do be careful about leaving your car on the road for a month or more.

Double Parking

Some drivers have the habit of parking on double yellow lines and go for bread, newspaper, drinks, coffee … it is totally forbidden for the DRIVER to be absent. There are cases of drivers leaving an occupant in the vehicle in his absence. The regulations make it clear that the driver must not leave the vehicle.

Only one parking space should be occupied in a car park. Failure to do so may result in a penalty for minor infringement.

When we talk about “parking time limitations”, we are talking about the “blue zone”; areas where only parking is allowed for a limited time, after payment of the sum in one of the parking meters installed on the street. Once the amount has been paid, we must show the parking ticket in a visible place on the dashboard. It will be cause for immobilisation and even taking the vehicle away, both not to show the ticket, and to exceed the authorised time without having renewed the ticket. Once the driver is identified, he will be sanctioned, having to pay a breakdown lorry and deposit expenses in case the vehicle is moved to the municipal warehouse until the driver’s identification.

When Driving

Stick to the right edge of the road; This is something that drivers do not usually do, maybe because of ignorance of the rule, but this rule is still in force.

If you drive onto a road and you see that traffic is feeding onto the road, you are not allowed to increase your speed. As much as possible, you should ease the access of vehicles that are feeding into the road on which you are driving.


You can not overtake by driving behind another vehicle that in turn is overtaking if this prevents you from seeing onward traffic. This happens with large vehicles; vans, trucks, buses … which, due to their size, prevent us from seeing what is in front of us, so we must let them pass in order to start the manoeuver.

As a general rule overtaking in a continuous line is forbidden, but the exception to the rule says that it can be done when we pass the drivers of bicycles, cycles, mopeds, pedestrians, animals and animal-drawn vehicles. The overtaking of heavy machinery is not allowed in this way.

Many drivers think that the service vehicles that drive along the hard shoulder at a reduced speed, can be overtaken in a continuous line. But they often occupy part of the carriageway so overtaking them would make us have to occupy practically the opposite lane to overtake them safely, which is why overtaking like this is forbidden.

Remember to leave a safe distance between both vehicles before overtaking, many vehicles stick to the back of the vehicle they intend to overtake creating a risky situation.

If the vehicle does not indicate its purpose of turning to the left overtaking on the right is forbidden.

Many times we see vehicles that drive in the left lane at a lower speed than us and that after finishing overtaking they continue to drive in this lane, which sometimes causes drivers to want to overtake in the right lane. This is a violation by the two vehicles, the one that is driving in the left lane preventing overtaking, and the vehicle that cannot be overtaken in the left lane, that uses the right lane to do so. In these cases we must remain in the left lane, using the horn or lights to communicate our presence and our intention to overtake the vehicle in front of us.The use of the horn or lights is justified in this case provided it is done moderately and only to warn of our presence and intention to overtake the driver of the vehicle in front.

Sometimes in traffic jams, there are drivers who want to save some time and start zig-zagging by changing lanes only to overtake vehicles. This type of manoeuver is totally forbidden since you can only change lanes for the above-mentioned reasons.

There are drivers that just at the time of overtaking or after having started it, that’s when they use the indicator. The turn signal must be used before carrying out the maneuver to inform the vehicle behind and the vehicle in front of the maneuver you are going to make, and thus avoid a possibly dangerous situation, since if for example you are driving behind a heavy vehicle and do not indicate the maneuver or indicate it once started, it could be the case that the vehicle behind you has already started the maneuver which could end up in an accident.  That is why we must always signal the manoeuvre wait a few seconds and start doing it.

If you are going to overtake several vehicles at the same time, always keep in mind that at any time another vehicle may come in front and there must be enough space to be able to return to our lane. Sometimes there is a “false sense of security” when we overtake a truck with a trailer and halfway through the manoeuvre we realize that due to the dimensions of the convoy we will not be able to do it safely, so we will have to stop and hold back from doing the manoeuvre.


When overtaking both the start manoeuvre (left indicator) and the end one ( right indicator) must be signalled and not using them is a reason for sanction, this violation being one of the most sanctioned since drivers do not always signal their return to the lane after overtaking.

The use of the horn or lights is allowed to warn the driver ahead that we are going to overtake.

Many risky situations occur due to the fact that when overtaking drivers do not take into account cyclists that drive along the shoulder in the opposite direction. In these cases, you must wait for them to pass to start overtaking. Always remember to leave a minimum separation of 1.5m, otherwise, you should wait to overtake.

Washing a Car on the Road

The last one is something I have been asked recently and was not sure of the answer. It is not permitted at the moment in virtually all areas of this municipality to wash a car on the road. Not only does it tend to generate a great deal of water on the road, which could potentially cause an accident to a bicycle, pedestrian or even other car, but also the products used to clean cars also exacerbate the situation.

So there you go, a few snippets of traffic rules. Our friends at N332 (N332) will have a whole book of the Spanish highway code for you this year.  Stay safe and stay legal.

Amanda Thomas


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