ROADS IN SPAIN
The roads in Spain today are considerably better than they were just 10 years ago. Many of the infamously dangerous major single carriageways, such as the N340 spanning the Costa del Sol, have been made into decent dual carriageways and some superb toll motorways have been built. You still get the occasional pot-holed 'I think I've destroyed my suspension' type roads but these are gradually being replaced by new smoother roads.
Having to join a busy dual-carriageway from a standstill is never safe! Yet most of the exits onto the dual-carriageway are like this. Sometimes you'll even find that you are on a bit of a hill, at a stand-still, trying to get onto the road as quickly as possible but which usually ends up in a lot of wheel-spin and a slow crawl onto the motorway as a menacing truck hurtles towards you at 100 kph. Nerve-racking to say the least! You also usually get the 'I don`t care what's coming' type of driver who decides to pull out onto the road like a snail, risking their own lives as well as everyone else's. The crazy thing is that this type of driving is not really frowned upon, with no resulting road-rage and everyone carries on as normal having just braked so hard to avoid a collision.
Don't worry about following the road numbers. Just follow the signs that point toward your city destination. Street name signs are not always easy to find. If you are walking down the street, you usually can find a street sign, mounted on the side of a corner building. These signs are really hard to see from a car. To locate a hotel or attraction there usually are signs along the road pointing you in the right direction.
Spanish road names that begin with an 'AP' are toll roads and as a result are usually relatively free from traffic. They will invariably have a toll-free road running more or less alongside, which will be busier and probably more picturesque.
A or E - prefix to road number: these can be toll roads (peajes). Example, AP7 or E90
Autovia (dual carriageway)
A - prefix to road number. Not necessarily with a central reservation. - example A8
N or CN - prefix to road number, main roads - example CN322
Carretera Comarcal (country roads, Local small roads)
C - prefix, are often CV roads
Spain has over 2,000 km of toll roads and more are planned. They are of excellent standard and all have service stations with cafes of an acceptable standard every 25 miles or so. The tolls are expensive, especially in summer when the rates are doubled and are usually calculated per kilometer. Toll roads are great. Okay, they're not free, but they are so empty! There is no such thing as 'rush hour' on the toll roads; you are pretty much guaranteed that you'll arrive at your journey at the time you planned.
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. They do however mean that you can drive relaxed and safer over long distances as the locals usually avoid them. Most ticket booths are on the left. Some booths have operators both sides.
As you approach the toll booths (peaje), you will be confronted with rows of them:
`Telepago` lane is for cars fitted with a special chip on the windscreen.
`Automatico` is a machine only where exact money can be paid.
`Tarjeta` is to pay by credit card only.
`Manual` has an attendant who collects your fee.
All useable lanes will have a green arrow, un-usable lanes display a red cross.
Remember that there are S.O.S. posts along the toll roads every two miles or so.
You can check the highways that require toll payment on this website: (https://www.aseta.es/index.php?Seccion=mapa)
You can find out real-time road conditions through the website of the Department of Transportation (https://www.dgt.es/). The information about roads is available in Spanish, English, and French. Also, radio stations provide information about roads in their news programs.