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Spain Traffic Rules

The traffic rules in Spain are sometimes slightly different than in your home country. We list the most important general rules for you.

Traffic rules in general

Here are some important general traffic rules, including a number of traffic rules that deviate from other countries.

Safe driving

  • In Spain, general rules apply that the driver of a vehicle must have control of the vehicle at all times, must have complete freedom of movement and a free field of vision, and must always be attentive to driving.
  • Based on these rules, you as a driver can be fined if, for example, you eat or drink something while driving, smoke a cigarette, apply makeup, take something out of the glove compartment, have bare feet, wear flip flops or wear swimwear.

Driving under the influence

  • The maximum permitted blood alcohol level is 0.5 per cent.
  • For drivers who have not had a driver’s license for less than two years, the maximum is 0.3 percent.
  • It is forbidden to drive under the influence of drugs.

Mobile phone

  • It is forbidden for drivers of vehicles (including cyclists) to hold a mobile phone while driving.
  • Note: Even if the vehicle is stationary in a traffic jam or in front of a red traffic light, the driver may not hold a mobile phone.
  • Hands-free calling is permitted.

Headphones or earphones

  • The use of a headset, headphones or earphones for mobile calls or listening to music while driving is prohibited for all drivers, including motorcyclists, cyclists and mopeds. Hearing protectors are also not allowed.

Operating equipment

  • The driver may not operate (touch or program) equipment that can divert attention, such as a smartphone, tablet or DVD device, and no equipment with a screen must be present within the driver’s field of vision while driving. , unless it concerns navigation equipment.
  • Setting a route on navigation equipment while driving is prohibited.

Walking safely

  • Pedestrians are required to walk outside the built-up area on the left-hand side of the road if no footpath is present, except in situations where it is safer to walk on the right-hand side.
  • Anyone who walks alongside the road between sunset and sunrise and in poor visibility, is obliged to wear a safety vest.

Basic traffic rules

  • You have to drive on the right and overtake on the left.

Priority

  • Drivers from the right have priority over an intersection, unless otherwise indicated by traffic signs.
  • In Spain it is not indicated with shark teeth, but with a thick broken line that drivers must give priority to drivers on an intersecting road. This line is often preceded by a large inverted triangle on the road surface. In addition, a triangular road sign is often used with the text Ceda el paso (Give priority).
  • Trams always have priority.
  • Intersections can be provided with yellow squares over the entire intersection. Drivers may only enter such intersections if they can pass them without stopping.

Roundabout

  • If you want to enter a roundabout, you must give priority to drivers who are already on the roundabout.
  • If you want to leave the roundabout, you must first go to the outer lane. If that does not work in time, you have to drive an extra lap.
  • Every maneuver that you want to make while driving at the roundabout, you must indicate with your direction indicators.

Pass

  • On slopes of at least 7%, rising traffic takes precedence over falling traffic, unless the rising vehicle is close to an alternative location.

Overtaking

  • Moving trams must be overtaken on the right.
  • Drivers are not allowed to bypass trams where passengers get on and off.
  • When overtaking cyclists, the driver of a motorized vehicle must always keep a distance of 1.5 m, thereby also using the adjacent lane, or a part thereof. It is forbidden to overtake or endanger cyclists, including oncoming cyclists, in any way when overtaking.

Parking

  • It is forbidden to park on the left side of the road (against the direction of travel), also in parking bays on the left. You can park on the left in a one-way street.
  • Parking is prohibited within 5 m of an intersection or curve.
  • In urban areas there are parking zones that are marked with blue lines (Zona ORA), where you can park for one to two hours for a fee. In Madrid, such a zone is called the Zona SER. There are also zones with blue or green lines where you can park for a fee. In parking zones it is usually possible to pay via a parking meter or mobile phone. Barcelona has parking meters where you can pay with a credit card.

Sound signals

  • In cities, sound signals within urban areas are only permitted if there is an immediate risk of a collision. In some places it is completely forbidden to give audio signals, which is indicated by signs. In that case you should blink your lights in the event of a collision hazard.
  • An acoustic signal may be given when overtaking outside built-up areas. When driving on narrow roads with many curves, it is even mandatory to warn any oncoming traffic with the help of audio signals.

Lanes

  • If within a built-up area a road has at least two lanes per direction, but no car is (fast) away, the driver is free to choose a lane.
  • There are also lanes specially reserved for cars without a trailer with several passengers. These are the so-called VAO lanes (Vehículos con alta occupación, vehicles with multiple occupants). Motorbikes may also use such lanes.
  • An alternating lane may occur on roads with two-way traffic, characterized on both sides by a double broken line. This switch lane is intended for use by traffic in both directions. Vehicles that use this strip must have low beam at all times.

Particularities


Autovía

  • In addition to motorways (autopistas) and motorways (vía reservada para automóviles), there are also autovías, indicated by a sign similar to that of the motorway with the text autovía on it. These have in principle the same characteristics and maximum speeds as motorways, but may, unless otherwise indicated, also be used by agricultural vehicles, bicycles and the like if there is no alternative for them. They must then remain on the emergency lane.

Let the engine run

  • If it is likely that waiting, in a traffic jam or at a railway crossing, for example, will take longer than two minutes, the driver must switch off the engine.

Crossing game

  • Motorists who drive into game are responsible for the damage, unless the manager of the road has failed to warn with signs about crossing wildlife and unless there are gaps in the fence of the road.
Traffic rules car

Traffic rules car

Lighting

  • The use of low beam is mandatory in tunnels, on turnouts and other lanes that can be used by traffic in both directions.
  • Drivers must use high beam on poorly lit roads and in poorly lit tunnels, unless they encounter an oncoming car or are driving a short distance behind another vehicle.
  • Furthermore, just like in the Netherlands, motorists are only obliged to use light during the day when visibility is seriously obstructed.

Children

  • Note: Children who are 1.35 m or smaller must not sit in the front; they may only be transported in the rear in an approved and suitable child seat.
  • Children who are 1.35 m or smaller can only sit in the front in the following cases:
    – If the rear seat is already fully occupied with children of 1.35 m or smaller in child seats.
    – If it is not possible to install an approved child seat in the rear seat.
    – If the car is a two-seater.
  • Children taller than 1.35 m can also sit in the front and use a normal seat belt. However, in Spain it is advised to also transport children from 1.35 m to around 1.50 m in an approved and suitable child seat or on an approved and suitable booster seat.
  • If a child (in one of the three exceptional cases mentioned above) is carried with his back to the front in a child seat in the front of the car, the airbag must be switched off.

Load

  • The load must not protrude at the front and on both sides.
  • The load must not protrude more than 10% of the length of the vehicle to the rear. It may be 15% if it is an indivisible load.
  • Backwards protruding loads must always be provided with a reflective aluminum or plastic warning sign of 50 x 50 cm that is white with 3 red diagonal stripes. Such a sign is among others available at anwb.nl/webwinkel under the name Warning sign Spain.
  • A load covering the entire width of the vehicle must be marked with two such signs at both ends, with the signs attached so that the stripes together form an inverted V.
  • At night and when visibility is poor, rearward projecting loads must also be marked with a red light.

Bicycles

  • Bicycles that are transported on a bicycle carrier behind the car are also included in the load of a vehicle and must be marked with the above-mentioned reflective red-white sign.

Maximum speeds

  City Outside city Motorways (A / B) Motorways and autovías (B)
Mopeds 45 45 prohibited prohibited
Passenger cars and motorcycles (C) 50 90 100 120
Motorhomes, maximum permitted mass ≤ 3500 kg, maximum permitted mass 50 80 90 100
Motorhomes, maximum allowed mass > 3500 kg 50 80 80 90
Passenger cars, with trailer / caravan < 750 kg 50 70 80 90
Passenger cars, with trailer / caravan > 750 kg 50 70 80 80
  • More and more 30 km zones are being set up in built-up areas. In some residential areas, a maximum speed of 20 km / h applies. This is indicated by signs.
  • A: Also applies to highways with an emergency lane at least 1.50 m wide and for roads with separate lanes and four lanes.
  • B: The maximum speed on city car (high) roads is 80 km / h, unless the signs indicate otherwise.
  • C: For engines with a trailer, the maximum speed is 10% lower than without a trailer.
    The minimum speed on motorways and autovias is 60 km / h. The minimum speed on the other roads is half the indicated maximum speed.
  • The maximum speed may be exceeded by 20% on roads with one lane per driving direction, while overtaking.
  • Drivers are obliged to adjust their speed in dense fog, heavy rain, snow and in dust or smoke clouds.

Speed ​​camera signaling

  • Taking and using radar detection equipment is prohibited.
  • As far as is known, the use of signaling devices for fixed speed cameras or route controls (such as navigation equipment and telephones) is permitted.

Environmental zones in Spain

  • Spain has also introduced environmental zones in line with other European countries.
  • Madrid and Barcelona have an environmental zone (zona de bajas emisiones; low emission zone) that is only accessible for vehicles with a valid environmental sticker.

APR: zone only for permit holders

  • Environmental zones are being set up in some Spanish cities to improve air quality and create more space for local residents. These car-free zones are indicated by signs with the inscription Area de prioridad residencial (APR, zone only accessible to permit holders).
  • Running into an APR can result in hefty fines and it is important to pay attention to the signs and not to ignore them. Cameras check.
  • When booking a hotel room within an APR, it is advisable to contact the hotel owner in advance to ask if an exemption has been requested.
  • Disabled people must comply with strict, locally determined rules to be allowed to enter an APR. More information is available from the local authorities.

Environmental sticker

  • There are four environmental stickers (distintivos ambientales):
    – Blue – 0: no emissions.
    – Green-blue – eco: hybrid and gas-powered vehicles that meet the criteria of the green sticker.
    – Green – C: petrol cars registered in 2006 or later; diesel cars registered in 2014 or later; vehicles with more than 8 seats and heavy vehicles, both gasoline and diesel, registered in 2014 or later. Petrol vehicles must comply with Euro standard 4, 5 or 6 and diesel vehicles with Euro standard 6.
    – Yellow – B: petrol cars registered in 2000-2013; diesel cars registered in 2006-2013; vehicles with more than 8 seats and heavy vehicles, both petrol and diesel, registered in 2005-2013. Gasoline vehicles must comply with Euro standard 3 Euro 3 standard and diesel vehicles with Euro standard 4 or 5.
  • There is no sticker for other vehicles.
  • The stickers are available at the Spanish post offices and cost € 5.
  • For more information, see the website of the Spanish government dgt.es/es/seguridad-vial/distintivo-ambiental (only in Spanish).
  • Madrid

    • Madrid has a permanent environmental zone that covers almost the entire center and the M40. The zone bears the name Madrid Central.
    • Only vehicles belonging to residents and vehicles with a valid blue or green-blue environmental sticker may drive in the permanent environmental zone. With a green-blue sticker, the parking time is limited to 2 hours.
    • The zone is indicated by signs with the inscription Atención – Trafico Restringido.
    • For more information about Madrid’s environmental zone, see madrid.es (search for Madrid Central – Zona de Bajas Emisiones, for a ticket click on ¿Cuál es el perímetro?).

    Barcelona

    • Barcelona and its surroundings have a temporary environmental zone that is set in the event of extreme air pollution.
    • If the environmental zone is set, you can only enter it from Monday to Friday from 7 am to 8 pm with a valid environmental sticker.
    • Extensive and up-to-date information on Barcelona’s environmental zone can be found at ajuntament.barcelona.cat/qualitataire/en/low-emission-zone (Catalan, English and Spanish).
    Traffic rules bicycle

    Bicycle traffic rules

    Helmet

    • A helmet is mandatory outside built-up areas, except when the cycling conditions are tough (for example on long steep uphill roads or in extreme heat).
    • For children up to 16 years old who are transported by bike or by bicycle, wearing a helmet is always mandatory (so also within built-up areas).

    Clothing

    • Outside built-up areas it is compulsory at night and in poor visibility to wear reflective clothing that is still visible at a distance of at least 150 m.

    Lighting and other requirements

    • Bicycles must be fitted with fixed lights in the dark, in tunnels and in poor visibility. The light on the front of the bicycle must be white or yellow and the back of the bicycle on the color red.
    • A bicycle must have a red reflector behind it, as well as reflectors on the pedals and wheels.
    • The bicycle must also be equipped with properly functioning brakes and a bell.

    Passengers

    • Adults can take a child younger than 7 in a child seat. The child must wear a helmet.

    Cycling children

    • Children are allowed to cycle on roads with separate carriageways if they are 15 years or older.
    • For children up to 16 years, wearing a bicycle helmet is always mandatory.

    Trailer

    • It is forbidden to ride behind a bicycle with a trailer

    Cycling under the influence

    • The maximum permitted blood alcohol level is 0.5 per cent.

    Mobile phone

    • Cyclists are not allowed to hold a mobile phone while driving.
    • Hands-free calling is permitted. However, the use of headphones is prohibited.

    Drive side by side

    • Cyclists may only ride next to each other in good visibility.

    Turn

    • On roads outside built-up areas, cyclists may not get in the lane when turning to the left. They must continue to drive to the right until the other side of the intersecting road and turn left there if this is possible without danger.

    Electric bike

    • The same rules apply to an electric bicycle (bicicleta eléctrica) with pedal assistance up to 25 km / h that has a maximum power of 250 watts as for a normal bicycle.
    • For children up to the age of 16 and for all cyclists outside built-up areas, a bicycle helmet is mandatory, except when the cycling conditions are tough (for example on long steep uphill roads or in extreme heat).
    • Outside built-up areas, it is mandatory to wear reflective clothing at night and in poor visibility.
    • You can ride on cycle paths with an electric bicycle.

    Speedpedelec

    • For an electric bicycle with pedal assistance up to 45 km / h or a power greater than 250 watts and also for an electric bicycle that can also be moved without pedaling, the same rules apply as far as known as for a moped.
    • The driver is obliged to wear an approved moped helmet (standard ECE 22.05). As far as is known, wearing a special speedpedelec helmet (standard NTA 8776: 2016) is not permitted.
    Traffic rules moped

    Traffic rules moped

    • There is no separate definition of a moped in Spain; this falls under the mopeds.
    • A moped may not be faster than 45 km / h.

    Helmet

    • It is mandatory to wear a helmet.

    Lighting

    • Mopeds and light mopeds are also advised to use low beam during the day.

    Passengers

    • It is not permitted to carry a person under the age of 12 on a moped.
    • Only parents, guardians or adults authorized by them may carry children from 7 to 11 years on the moped. However, the child must then wear a well-fitting helmet.
    • Note: Drivers under the age of 18 are not allowed to carry passengers.

    Place on the road

    • On a road where there are no separate facilities for slow traffic, you can use the emergency lane if it is easy to drive. If there is no (suitable) escape lane, you can use the roadway.

    Trailer

    • Carrying a trailer is permitted during the day in good visibility.
    • The weight may not exceed half that of the towing vehicle.

    Moped car in Spain

    • In Spain a moped car is officially called ciclomotor de cuatro ruedas or.
    • According to the law, a moped car is the same as a moped. The maximum speed is 45 km / h.
    • The minimum age for driving a moped car is 15 years. Note: You may only carry passengers if you are 18 years old.
    • A moped car is not allowed on a motorway (autovía), motorway (autopista) and other roads that are prohibited for slow traffic.
    • On a road where there are no separate facilities for slow traffic, you can use the emergency lane if it is easy to drive. If there is no (suitable) escape lane, you can use the roadway.
    • A (moped) driver’s license is required to drive a moped car in Spain.
    • If necessary, take a navigation device with you to find alternatives for roads that are prohibited for moped cars.
    • In the event of a breakdown, a retro-reflective safety vest must be worn.
    • A Dutch moped car must have an NL sticker.

    Particularities

    • On roads outside built-up areas, moped riders are not allowed to get in the lane when turning to the left. They must continue to drive to the right until the other side of the intersecting road and turn left there if this is possible without danger.
    Traffic rules trailer or caravan

    Traffic rules trailer or caravan

    Dimensions, maximum

    Width combination (excl. mirrors) 2.55 m
    Height combination 4 m
    Trailer length (incl. drawbar) 12 m (A)
    Length combination 18.75 m (A / B)

    • A: Any bicycle carrier on the back is included in the length.
    • B: If a combination of a car or motorhome with a trailer or caravan is longer than 12 m, ECE 70 marking plates must be applied.

    ECE 70 marking plates

    • In Spain and Portugal, a vehicle combination (such as a car or motorhome with caravan or trailer) that is longer than 12 m (including bicycle carrier and the like) must be fitted with ECE 70 marking plates. These are reflective yellow plates with a red border.
    • Different size plates are allowed:
    • – Two short plates of 50 x 25 cm (place these in horizontal or vertical position on the left and right on the rear of the trailer).
      – One long plate of 130 x 25 cm (place it in the horizontal position in the middle of the rear of the trailer).
      – Plates with slightly different dimensions (such as 56 x 20 cm or 113 x 20 cm) are also permitted.

    • The plates must be installed at a height of 50 to 150 cm above the road surface.
    • The plates are available at car parts stores. When purchasing, ensure that the ECE 70 quality mark (or ECE 70-01) is applied to the plates.
    • As far as is known, the use of these marking plates in other European countries, such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France, is not permitted.

    Bicycles

    • Bicycles that are transported at the back of the caravan must be marked with a 50 x 50 cm reflective aluminum or plastic sign that is white with 3 red diagonal stripes.

    Keep distance

    • Cars with a trailer with a total length of more than 10 m must keep a distance of at least 50 m from their predecessor outside built-up areas.
    • This obligation does not apply if overtaking is prohibited, if there is more than one lane per driving direction and in traffic jams.

    Extra wide trailer

    • For the transport of a trailer that is wider than 2.55 m, a special permit must be requested from:
      Direccion General de Transportes por Carretera
      Ministerio de Fomento
      Paseo de la Castellana 67
      28071 Madrid
      Tel. +34 915 977 000

    For more information: fomento.es (Spanish).

    Winter tires

    Winter tires

    • Not required – The use of winter tires during winter conditions is not mandatory, but is recommended for mountain areas such as the Pyrenees and Sierra Nevada.

    Snow chains

    • Mandatory by sign – The use of snow chains is mandatory if this is indicated by a traffic sign (or otherwise by the police).
    • The use of snow chains is only permitted on roads covered with snow or ice.
    • Snow chains must be mounted at least on the driven wheels.
    • If snow chains are used, the maximum speed is 50 km / h.

    Nail tapes

    • Allowed – The use of studded tires is only permitted on roads covered with snow or ice.
    • The nails must be rounded and must not protrude more than 2 mm.