I have been living in Spain for almost 4 years now and before that, I lived in both South America and France. I can’t say that the French are the safest drivers on planet earth but, I have to say, driving in Spain can be a bit of a shock when you first arrive here.
The trouble (depending on which way you look at it), is the Spanish are largely a religious set of people and their faith in God isn’t more noticeable than when you’re out on the roads! Considering the Mañana type attitude to life in general in Spain, this seems to go straight out of the window when someone gets behind the wheel of a car. All of a sudden speed is the aim of the game.
In fact, that’s not exactly true, there are two speeds: REALLY slow or REALLY fast both of which can cause a number of headaches. If you’re just about to move to Spain or, have just moved here I suggest you get right “into the saddle” so to speak.
The longer you leave getting on to the roads, the harder it will be and I speak from experience. As long as you follow some of the points below, you should do just fine:
· Don’t try to play the locals at their own game. Remember, they learnt to drive in their own country (just like you did in the UK) and it’s completely natural to them.
· If you find yourself in a situation where someone wants to over-take you and it doesn’t seem like a very sensible place to do so, just let them get on with it (this will happen)!
· Even if no-one else seems to be abiding by the laws of the road, make sure you do. The traffic police in Spain are becoming ever more vigilant about breaking the rules and they’re not to be messed with.
· Keep your cool! Just like in your own country, tempers can flare but right now you’re not only getting used to a new life in a new country, you’re also (almost) learning to drive again so keep it steady and calm.
Hmmm….well, anything goes really! It depends on how you want to play the game. I’ve seen double parking in places you just wouldn’t believe and for some reason, the police don’t seem to bother about it too much as long as the hazard lights are on.
You should also think about this when you’re in a car park. It’s hard to believe that anyone bothers with marking out the parking bays. Most people just seem to “land”, get out of the car and go shopping. If you’re worried about your paintwork, try looking for a relatively quiet spot.
You won’t find the sort of traffic congestion you get in the UK over in Spain, and it’s rare you’ll end up in a jam on the motorway (if ever). Perhaps that’s why people seem so, shall we say, careless? Just take your time and stay calm, it will become 2nd nature in the end.
Author: Julie Coburn