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    Driving in Spain: Car Rental Information and Tips

    Spain Driving Overview

    Madrid is the political, cultural and geographical center of Spain, and also the hub of much of the country's road network. Spain has nearly 100,000mi/160,000km of roads. The major superhighways require a toll and are generally well maintained. Provincial roads vary in quality, but all major highways are of superior quality.

    Rules of the Road in Spain

    Traffic travels on the right and if a car approaches you while driving in Spain and signals an intention to pass, you must turn on your right directional to signal that the road ahead is clear.

    Speed Limits in Spain

    Speed Limits & Gas Stations in Spain 
    • City: 31mph/50kph
    • Open Roads: 55mph/90kph
    • Highways: 74mph/120kph
    Gas Station Availability - Gas stations are open from 8am to 8pm with some stations in major cities and on the highway open 24 hours.
    Spain Parking Laws and Tolls

    Parking & Tolls in Spain

    Spain's expressways, the 'autopistas,' are toll roads and are identified by the letter "A".

    'Blue zone' parking exists in Spanish cities. While driving a rental car in Barcelona or elsewhere in Spain, be on the lookout for blue zone parking which is marked by the sign, 'Zona Azul.' In these designated zones you may park for 2 hours. Parking discs for these zones are available at most hotels and town halls.

    Tips for Driving Your Rental Car in Spain

    Tourists and travelers visiting from the United States often express their concerns regarding the many differences they will experience when driving in Spain, compared to their familiar home territories. Worry not, as Auto Europe's comprehensive travel guide will provide you with everything you need to know to navigate the streets of Spain with ease.

    Spain Driving Tip #1 Pull Over if You Need to Use Your Cell Phone

    Like nearly every other European country, using a cell phone or mobile device while driving in Spain is strictly forbidden. Hands-free devices must be completely "hands-free," using headphones, ear-pieces, or speaker-phone while driving is also prohibited, and offenders may be fined.

    Spain Driving Tip #2 Choose Parking Spots Very Carefully

    Many drivers in Spain use their car bumpers more liberally than most, and it's very common to see drivers reverse until they 'bump' the car behind them, in an effort to maximize the amount of space they have to exit their parking spot. This can pose a threat to drivers of car rentals, as unless you are equipped with fully comprehensive insurance, you may be assessed minor damage fines that result from local drivers scuffing your bumper.

    Spain Driving Tip #3 Use Turn Signals and Understand Passing Protocol

    Spanish driving law dictates that all passing on expressways must be done in the left lane, with proper use of turn signal indicators. Some Drivers will also approach you from behind, briefly flash their lights, as a signal that they will be passing, and then proceed to go around you. Don't take offense to the light flashing, as it's not normally done under hostile pretenses, but rather as a friendly reminder that they will be passing you momentarily.

    Spain Driving Tip #4 Avoid Roundabouts When Possible

    Because roundabouts are a relatively recent addition to Spain's roadways, implemented in the late 1970's, driving around them can be quite chaotic to the uninitiated. Many drivers have reported cars traveling in both directions in roundabouts - especially the larger ones found while driving in Madrid and Barcelona - which creates an all-out vehicle free-for-all.

    Spain Driving Laws

    If you're planning on driving during your vacation in Spain, having a firm grasp of traffic rules and regulations is crucial to guaranteeing a hassle-free travel experience.

    • Children under the age of 12, or older children which stand less than 5 feet in height, are legally required to sit in the back seat while you are driving in Spain.
    • Booster seats and child seats are mandatory for children riding in the back up to age 12, granted height and weight restrictions do apply.
    • All occupants of a vehicle are required to wear seatbelts at all times, and the driver must accept responsibility for any traffic fines incurred by passengers choosing to ignore seatbelt regulations.
    • Spain Driving InformationReflective vests, warning triangles, and spare light bulbs are all legally required to be carried in your vehicle at all times, to be used in cases of emergency, or if you have to stop your vehicle on the side of the road. Fortunately, all car rentals in Spain include this gear at no extra charge.
    • Wearing sunglasses while driving though tunnels is illegal in Spain.
    • Car insurance, rental paperwork, and all other pertinent documentation must be kept in your vehicle at all times.
    • In the event that you receive a traffic infraction ticket in Spain, contact your car rental supplier immediately, and arrange a payment plan as soon as possible. If ignored you can expect a steady regimen of letters which will be sent to your home address notifying you of the amount due, and the fine will increase drastically if left to fester.