The Spanish Highway Code

Life in Spain Tue, 11 Nov 2014
Spanish Highway Code

It might not always seem like it when you’re on the roads in Spain, but there is a very comprehensive Spanish highway code. The Código de Tráfico y Seguridad Vial was last modified on 22nd May 2014 (download here).

It consists of 941 pages and 385 articles. So it’s unlikely that you’re going to want to read it cover to cover.  If you don’t speak Spanish you are, of course, even less likely to. There is everything in there from the detailed specifications of the ‘Transporte escolar’ sign to the usual explanations of warning and information signs.

However, if you do feel inclined, all the small print is there and, with a little help from google translate and a few hours spare, you might manage to decipher some important points. For example:

the section on seatbelts and constraints is quite useful for those struggling to understand what the legal requirements are (p.102). However, it is probably still easier to read Lisa Seidler’s article, 'Car Seats in Spain: Understanding the Law'.

If you prefer to have pictures with your reading material you would probably find the section on p.157 more interesting. If nothing else, these examples of road signs in Spain could usefully be employed in a general knowledge quiz.

However, rather than wading through this document, most people prefer to check with an expert in driving in Spain. For example, Graham Shelton of Spanish Number Plates, writes a weekly column in the Costa Blanca News and frequently tackles the questions that are of most concern to the expat population.

In one of his latest article in CBN he tackled some frequently asked questions.

Frequently asked questions

1.  How do you circulate at roundabouts in Spain?

The roundabout should be treated as if the road were straight and the left hand lane should only be used for overtaking.

2.  How many points am I allowed on my driving licence?

In Spain you start off with 12 points and then ‘lose’ points when an offence is committed. If you get as far down as zero then that means that you lose your licence.

3.  How might I receive a fine?

You can receive a fine either directly from the police officer or through the post.

4.  Is it true that I can’t wear flip flops when driving?

The issue of wearing flip-flops in the summer does crop up. The requirement is that footwear is light and flexible and ‘bound to the feet’. This is why flip flops have been ruled out as driving footwear.

5.  What should I keep in the car?

Being stopped by the police and not having the correct documents in Spain is a worry for many foreigners.

The documentation you must have includes:

  • Car registration document
  • ITV card (MOT certificate equivalent)
  • Proof of payment of road tax
  • Insurance documents
  • Your driving licence – must be carried with you

Other items you must carry include:

  • Two warning triangles
  • A minimum of two hi-viz jackets (enough so that every passenger has one)

Thanks to Graham Shelton for these questions and answers. You might not want to read through the Spanish Highway Code but, as he will also advise you, when it comes to driving do make sure that you take professional advice and don’t rely on the bar room gossip.

Information published in the Costa Blanca News October 31st to November 6th ‘Highway Code in English’ by Graham Shelton.  

Comments

I was driving our car in Spain (British Registration) when a car drove out of a side road on our right without looking and collided with the front of our car. The driver admitted it was her fault and that she should have stopped, but didn't. The road was on our Urbanization and was a wide road and of course I was driving on the right.

My Insurance the Co-operative, repaired my car and I heard nothing else until recently. The other drivers Insurance claimed I should have given way under Article 57. I was on the main road and the side road was a T-junction. I cannot believe this law has been interpreted this way. She did not even stop and look.

I am going to the ombudsman to dispute the claim.
I would like to know what Article 57 really means.

Thanks

Article 57 provides information in relation to signalling. The driver on a straight road has priority, in this case this means you from the sound of it. You should take this new claim back to your insurance providers for them to respond to if they haven't already. 

Advice provided by Graham Shelton of Spanish Number Plates http://www.spanish-number-plates.com/index.php.  

I have a intercom fitted inside my motorcycle helmet, not an ear plug type but attached to the helmet. thus allowing intercom between two motorcycles, it is allowed within the spanish laws?
The make is a Scala Pack talk.
Thanks

Hi Phil

Inter-bike communications are not allowed in Spain. Laws written in 1994 allowed them but there was a later amendment which made them illegal and trafico will issue fines if they catch you.

Information provided by Graham Shelton of Spanish Number Plates

I am purchasing a Quad bike with a plate black on yellow. Does this mean i can ride on the motorway? or just main roads and off road? also could i have a passenger as the seat is big enough for 2!.

Yellow plates denote an engine size of 49 cc. Such vehicles can not be used on motorways. However, if the seat is made for two people then two people can ride the quad. 

Thanks again to Graham Shelton of Spanish Number Plates for this information. 

I am hiring a 17 seater minibus\coach for family holiday in Marjorca using it mainly to transfer everyone of our party from the airport to our location in one go. I understand I can drive this vehicle on my full UK licence. Is there any other rules or restrictions I need to know about?

Thanks

Hi David

As far as we are aware, vehicles with over 9 seats require the driver to have a vocational licence (PCV/PSV) . I imagine that the rental company would want to see proof of this, they may also add their own restrictions. The potential hirer is best advised to check it out with the hiring company.

Thanks again to Graham Shelton of Spanish Number Plates for this information. 

My wife was recently involved in an accident at a junction, she was turning right NOT into oncoming traffic effectively staying in her own lane, as she was edging out to see past the obscenely high wall, she took a glancing blow from a car coming from the right as they we're cutting the corner. The insurance people we're involved and have come back to us saying that it was our fault as you have to give way to people coming from the right not the left which makes no sense to me, Both cars are Spanish LHD. Any advice? or where can I read about the traffic code of conduct that say's that its ok to cut corners and if you hit another car its ok.

I'm sorry to hear about this. I think though if your insurers come back and say it is your fault, however absurd it might sound, you have to accept this. If they saw a way of getting out of paying I'm sure they would! If you do want to have a look at the Spanish Highway Code: http://boe.es/legislacion/codigos/codigo.php?id=020_Codigo_de_Trafico_y_... Also Graham Shelton's website and column in the Costa Blanca News are all good sources of information. 

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