The minimum age of a driver is 18 years. Children under 12 years of age must be seated in an approved child seat to sit in the front of a vehicle. Seat belts are compulsory for front- and rear-seat passengers.
The roads in Spain vary from very poor to very good. The main connecting roads are generally excellent. Roads are classified thus:
- Autopista (motorway) - A or E - prefix to road number, often toll roads
- Autovia - dual carriageway, not necessarily with a central reservation
- Carretera Nacional - N or CN - prefix to road number, main roads
- Carretera Comarcal - C - prefix, country roads
- Carretera Local - by-road
Dual carriageways 100kph
Country roads 90kph
Urban roads 50kph
Residential areas 20kph
A few hints
At all times expect the unexpected. Cars may indicate right and turn left or not even bother to indicate. Cars will stop in the middle of the road without warning then pull away without warning. Watch out for traffic lights, they are often 20 feet in the air and hard to see in the sun. If you ever sit at a green light for more than a second, expect to be honked. Watch out for pedestrian crossings - especially if you are the pedestrian, they don't mean much other than to decorate the road. On dual carriageways, vehicles may overtake on whichever side they feel like and some cars may not show lights when it's dark. Watch out for mopeds - especially the ones with the whole family and the dog on board.
Despite its modern road system, Spain has one of Europe's worst safety records, with one person killed or injured every 11 minutes - so keep an eye on the road at all times, as you will see, over a period of one or two weeks worth of driving, some incredible driving by Spanish motorists!
Motorcycles must be operated with headlights on-day and night. All vehicles must have headlights on in tunnels. In built-up areas horns may be used only in cases of immediate and extreme danger. Elsewhere don't use the horn unnecessarily, but don't hesitate to use it in warning.
A few basic rules
Give way to traffic from the left, especially at roundabouts. Do not pull into the middle of the road to turn left if there is a solid line in the road. There are often special lanes for this, signposted cambio de sentido. Always wear seatbelts and don't drink and drive - the limits are very low and the penalties very high, as are on-the-spot fines for traffic offences.
Immediately outside many towns are sensors which detect your speed as you approach the town. If you're going over the speed limit, a traffic light at the edge of the town is automatically turned to red so that you must come to a stop before entering the town. Two red lights mean No entry. Jaywalking is illegal and its prohibition is strictly enforced. Generally, traffic on the right has priority. Normally where a minor road intersects a major road there's a sign reading Stop or Ceda el Paso (give way); if such a sign is not in place, the traffic on the major road still has priority.
As a general rule you may not park in Spain where the pavement is painted yellow or where a no parking sign is displayed. In major cities, non-metered on-street parking is difficult to find but there are parking spaces marked in blue, for which you should purchase a ticket from a machine or an attendant. These spaces are usually for two hours maximum. Penalties for parking infringements vary from town to town and can be heavy. If you park illegally, especially in a foreign car, you will almost certainly become a victim of the 'grua' - the local tow truck. Getting your car back will be a hassle and will cost you about £40-£50 in fines and fees. Where possible, look for underground parking with security attendance. It's worth paying that little bit more.You will note however, despite all this advice, the Spanish will park wherever their car happens to come to a halt, even on crossings, pavements and roundabouts !
Fines imposed for speeding are are calculated at 6€ per kilometre over the speed limit and are payable on the spot. Speed traps are becoming quite frequent. Fines for other offences are calculated on the severity of the offence and on the whim of the police officer. All are payable on the spot. The legal drink-drive limit is currently 50mg per millilitre and breathaliser tests are frequent all over Spain. Fines are very high. You should also have with you, your current insurance, vehicle registration form and a valid driving licence. You should also be able to produce a passport or ID card. On the spot fines are compulsory for non-residents.
It is compulsory on all roads to wear seatbelts both front and rear where fitted.
Fuel Fuel prices are government regulated, so don't waste time shopping around. (Though this may soon change.) Some fuel stations accept credit cards. Regular leaded petrol has an octane rating of 92; the octane rating of super is 97. Unleaded petrol is called gasolina sin plomo. Unleaded super petrol has an octane rating of 95. Diesel is called gas-oil. LPG is called gases licuados del petróleo.
Autopista (toll) roads
Spain has over 2,000km of toll roads and more are planned. They are of excellent standard and all have service stations every 40km or so. The tolls are expensive and are usually calculated per km. Some toll roads, for long distance travelling allow you to collect a ticket at the start and then pay the total when you exit the road. For short distances you will pay the toll as you exit the toll road. As you approach the peaje (toll booth), you will be confronted with several lanes. The telepago lane is for cars fitted with a special chip on the windscreen. Automatico is for paying by credit card or the exact change and the manual has an attendant who collects your fee. All useable lanes will have a green arrow, un-usable lanes display a red cross.
If you want to explore further afield there are many car rental agencies that will allow you to pick up a car at the airport and leave it there once finished. Riviera del Sol is an easy 25 minute drive from the airport. Arrangements can be made if you wish, to either pick you up at the airport, taking you directly to your apartment/villa or to have a car left for you. I have listed links below to the websites of companies, based in Spain, who offer highly competitive hire rates for cars from Malaga Airport.
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