Driving in Spain
Motoring in Spain has changed significantly in recent years and it has seen some major improvements to roads which was well overdue. Between 1980 and 1990 the traffic on Spanish roads actually doubled and it has increased by a further 27% between 1995 and 2000. The improvements have not only seen new roads and bypasses built but has also included the addition of road signs and markings as well as the widening of of existing roads. The road building and improvement programme by the Spanish government has however failed to meet with demand and the ever increasing number of cars on Spain’s roads which is the reason why many regions unfortunately still experience saturated roads.
Driving in Spain can be extremely enjoyable especially in rural areas and outside of the tourist season where it is quite possible to drive for hours without seeing another motorist. Within the major cities such as Madrid and Barcelona it is a completely different story and you are likely to get stuck in traffic at any time of the day. Public transport in major cities is very good in Spain so driving should be avoided if at all possible. The quietest periods on the roads in Spain is usually between 3pm and 5pm during the siesta break.
Traffic queues are also common within resort towns and some coastal roads during summer as well as roads leading in to major city urbanisation’s such as Madrid or Barcelona, this is particularly the case during the beginning or the end of the holiday periods as millions of Spaniards and foreigners alike take to the roads.
All motor vehicles and trailers must be insured when entering Spain and failure to prove this will result in a fine between 600 and 3000 euros. It is not however compulsory for cars insured in the majority of European countries to carry international insurance or a green card as motorists with insurance in an EU member state are automatically covered for third party liability in Spain.
The majority of insurance companies in western Europe are able to provide motorists with an automatic green card for Spain which also extends your normal insurance cover to other European countries. Having said this it does not include those of you who have your car insured in the UK as insurance companies there tend to provide a green card for limited periods such as 30 or 45 days and for maximum number of days per year. It is however worth shopping around when obtaining insurance as some companies can offer green card validity for 6 months a year.
If you are planning on driving a UK registered car in Spain and spending over 6 months a year in the country you will need to obtain a special European insurance policy or take out insurance with a European company. EU rules state that all vehicles must be insured in their country of registration so if you keep a UK registered car in Spain you can insure it through the Spanish branch of a British based insurance company but you can not insure it with a Spanish company.