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Traffic Lights:

The traffic-lights (semaforas) in Spain are more often than not, situated only at your stop line for the junction and so you can see when they change when you are in the front of the queue, there is a set of smaller lights on the support post.

An amber flashing light means that there is a hazard approaching, such as a crossing. You can pass through this light, with caution, if clear to do so. Sometimes you will come across an amber light and if you pass through at more than the speed limit, this will change the next lights to red, meaning that you have to stop.

A uniformed traffic police officer has priority over all signs and the traffic lights come next in the pecking order; then 'vertical signs' (e.g. a STOP sign on a pole) and finally, a 'horizontal' sign such as a STOP line on the road surface, usually faded and very often invisible.

Pedestrian Crossings:

The Law for pedestrian crossings until recently is not as strict as in the US where a driver is always at fault if the vehicle hits a pedestrian on the crossing. You must step onto the crossing, remembering to look LEFT, and show the palm of your hand to any approaching vehicles. Previously, they still did not have to stop, but a new Law involving penalty points means that the drivers can be penalized now for not stopping. Many tourists are injured, some killed each year, for only looking right when crossing the road.


You may NOT overtake on the right (inside lanes) on the highways unless there is a slip road or another road indicated and you are taking it. It is very common in Spain to be passed on both sides of you so be aware when shifting lanes.

Give way to traffic from the right unless otherwise signed. On roundabouts you give way to the left unless signposted different. 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' (change of direction), especially on the autovias.


When it rains in Spain the roads actually become quite scary. It doesn't rain often but when it does the heavens truly open and the roads become swimming pools (apart from toll roads which aren't really affected).

What makes the roads dangerous in these conditions is that the drivers are not used to driving in the wet and don't always compensate for it. The fast drivers will still sit on your backside trying to get past and you still have to pull out from a standstill onto a main road.

Even worse than the rain are damp roads. Even in dry conditions the roads in Spain tend to be quite slippery due to dust. When the roads are damp, combined with the dust, you really do have to take it easy.


Like in any country Spain has a mix of slow, 'normal' and fast drivers. The slow ones tend to drive special cars for which you don't need a license. These are frighteningly slow as they can't do more than about 50 kph, so even buses and trucks have to overtake them. The normal drivers tend to have their head in the clouds and not really aware of their surroundings.

Then come the fast drivers who have a driving technique you have never known before (and which you may soon find yourself adopting). If you're in the outside lane and someone wants to get past you, the first thing they do is sit right on your back bumper - literally. Just millimeters away from you they will then put on their left indicator to tell you that they want to get past (as if you didn't already know this!). They are relentless (and crazy) when it comes to overtaking.

The Spaniards are not the most considerate of road users. When merging with a motorway, don't expect drivers to slow to let you on – you may have to stop at the end of the slip road. Many drivers show complete disregard for speed limits and you may find some obstinate road users who deliberately straddle two lanes to prevent such speed freaks from passing.