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08·JUL·2015

Driving in Spain - Safe Driving, Happy Holidays!

Keep on the right!  It sounds obvious but it can be easy to forget, particularly when turning into a new road and even more so in rural areas where you are not "following the flow" of traffic.  Needless to say that if you make a mistake you are in the wrong if there is a bump so be careful!  Once you have had a little practice it generally comes naturally, especially as the controls of the car are on the opposite side.  It won´t take long until you are driving your hire car in Alicante or Mallorca with ease!

Belt up! It is law in Spain that the driver and all passengers must wear seatbelts at all times. Just like in the UK you can be fined for not complying with this law and anyway it makes sense to stay safe. 

Children up to the age of 12 and measuring less than 135cm travelling on the front seat of a car must be seated in a child restraint system adapted to their size and weight. Children measuring more than 135cm may use an adult seat belt. Children fewer than 135cm travelling on the rear seat must also be placed in a child restraint system adapted to their size and weight, except when travelling in a taxi in an urban area. For your convenience, Drivalia have both baby/child seats and booster seats for hire to make sure that your little ones stay safe when you are traveling in your hire car.  Child seats are usually available on request from reception but to be sure please make sure you add this at the time of booking.

Watch out for flashers!  In the UK, despite the fact that flashing headlights is defined in the Highway Code as a warning to other road users, it is generally accepted as the unwritten rule that if someone flashed their headlights at you they are in actual fact allowing you to go.  In Spain however the rule is followed and flashing lights is generally a warning that the other car is coming or also sometimes used to warn oncoming traffic of a hazard ahead so remember this if someone flashes at you.

Speed limits are something that you should pay attention to.  Remember that in Spain we work in km/h rather then miles.  On motorways the limit is generally 120km/h, on dual carriageways it is generally 100km/h and on ordinary main roads upto 90km/h (much lower in built up areas).  Always look for the signs and make sure that you stick to the limit.  If you are going to be doing some motorway driving with your Alicante or Mallorca car hire then some of our models to have speed limiters and cruise control built in so you can always ask about this if it´s something that you would like to have.

Toll Roads are common in Spain and if you wish to use a motorway marked with the blue "AP" then this means that you must pay to use the road.  There are always alternatives which are the national roads and free to use but the motorway network in Spain is very good and does not usually suffer from the usual congestion that is familiar in countries such as the UK.  Not all motorways are toll roads and if the sign is "A" rather than "AP" then that section of the road is free to use.

Generally on toll roads you will take a ticket when you enter the road (although this is not always the case) and then pay either at the end of the toll section or at the exit when you leave.  You can pay in cash or wish a major credit or debit card at most payment machines.  Avoid the lane signposted "VIA T" as these are reserved for residents who have an account with the toll operator and these lanes are "express" lanes with no means to pay (account holders have a small electronic device in the car that records the journey and opens the barrier automatically). 

Fuel and Petrol Stations.  For your convenience, with Drivalia car hire at Alicante airport and Mallorca airport we offer a choice of two fuel options allowing you to choose to take the car full and return it empty or take it full and return it full.  If you do need to top up during your holiday you will find both self-service and attended patrol stations.  At self-service you will typically fill your car and then pay inside the shop although in some stations and often at night you may be asked to pay before you fill your car.  Attended petrol stations are very common in Spain so if you see a memberof staff walking around it is likely they will come over and fill your car for you. In Spain there are typically two types of unleaded petrol just like in most countries.  95 octane which is cheaper and 98 octane which is sometimes branded as "super petrol" or similar and costs slightly more. Unleaded is called "sin plomo" and diesel is simply diesel (pronounced d-s-l).  If you are dealing with an attendant who is filling the car for you or if you prepay then you can simply request a certain amount (for example 10 euros) or ask them to fill the car.  The Spanish word for full is "lleno" (pronounced "yeno").

Parking in Spain works just like most countries.  In some places you can park free, in others you pay and of course there are public car parks. Parking regulations can work slightly differently from one town to another so always take the following advice as a general guide and make sure you check locally to avoid a fine! On-street parking which is marked with white spaces is generally free (check locally) but may have restrictions on how long you can park for in order to give everyone a chance.  If the spaces are painted blue then you will need to pay.  Look for the local "pay and display" machine where you will generally need to use coinage to purchase the amount of time you want to park for and then display the printed ticket in the car.  Paid parking zones are sometimes free at night or during siesta time so read the information displayed on signs or the machine to see when you have to pay.

The Spanish love to party and think nothing of closing a road if a local "fiesta" is planned or there is another event coming up.  Therefore even in areas where you pay always check for signs that may have been placed warning of temporary restrictions because often during a certain period they will clear the road and if your car happens to be there then they will simply send a "grua" (tow truck) to remove the car.  This of course is not only going to be a hassle but expensive as you will need to pay the fine and grua charge before they allow you to collect your car. So, the moral of the story is that when you are driving your hire car in Alicante or Mallorca you should always check if you are allowed to park!

If you want to play it safe then you can opt for a private car park.  These usually work in the same way as most countries.  You simply take a ticket on your way in and then pay either at a machine or to the attendant before you leave.  The big thing to remember about all parking in Spain, both on road and off road is that the spaces tend to be tight so bumps and scrapes happen... a lot!  Don´t forget on this point that if you reserve your car hire in Alicante or Palma with Drivalia at www.drivalia.com and choose our Ultimate package you have nothing to worry about if you do come back and find that someone has had a little mishap trying to squeeze into the space next to you!

Alcohol limits in Spain are much lower for driving than the UK and quite rightly the Police take a very dim view of anyone caught over the limit with very strong punishments for those caught doing so.  Don´t forget also that in Spain glasses of wine and shots of spirits are often much larger than the strictly measured amounts given out in the UK so that "just a small one" can easily take you over the limit. Our advice is always that if you are going to drink then let someone else drive, not only to stay within the law but also for your own safety and that of others.  If you are asked to provide a breathe test by the Police in Spain it is an offence to refuse and the penalties can be harsh.  Don´t forget that if you book your next car hire in Alicante or Mallorca on our Ultimate package then you can add an additional driver free so you can share the driving and that way everyone gets an opportunity to enjoy a light shandy or glass or sangria!

There are some things that you must have in the car when you drive your hrie car in Spain.  Firstly the driver must have his or her passport and driving licence.  All other passengers should carry their ID too because it is a general law in Spain that you must provide official identification upon request. You should carry a reflective jacket in the car incase you need to vacate the vehicle in the event of an emergency.  Warning triangles need to be carried to warn other road users if you have an accident or break down.  Don´t worry because when you rent a car in Alicante or Mallorca with Drivalia, as a courtesy to our customers we include both of these items inside the car.

A final note on your own personal safety when driving a hire car in Alicante or Mallorca or anywhere else in the world for that matter. Always be vigilant because although Spain is, compared to many countries a very safe place to enjoy your holiday, there are always people our there with bad intentions.  It´s a good idea to keep your car doors locked when driving at night or in slow moving traffic and don´t leave bags or valuable on display.  If anyone does try to stop you and are claiming to be the Police remember that Police must clearly identify themselves.  When you park your car remember not to leave anything on display, remove your GPS from the window and wipe away the tell-tale mark that it leaves on the window and don´t let anyone see you leaving things in the boot (it´s always a good idea to take your things with you anyway). 

We hope that by following this advice you will enjoy your holiday in Spain and have a trouble-free and enjoyable experience!