Home F.A.Q. Common driving actions that can lead to fines in Spain

Common driving actions that can lead to fines in Spain

by Mark Nolan
4 minutes read

As summer gets into full swing, the roads of many countries become awash with foreign vehicles and drivers, and whereas everyone welcomes tourists, it is important that the rules of each country are abided by, which does take a little bit of research beforehand.

Here, we will list some of the common problems frequently witnessed on the roads of Spain by foreign drivers, many of whom don’t know the rules, but are also often committed by those who really should by now know the law.

Throwing objects out of the window

A prohibited gesture and that many of the drivers carry out is to throw objects out of the window. It is also not allowed to “deposit objects on the road that may hinder the circulation, stop or parking of other vehicles”.

Smoking paraphernalia poses a serious risk to the environment, as can all too frequently be seen by the increase in wildfires, but any and every object thrown from a vehicle or deposited on the road is also a risk.

Driving with little (or too much) clothing

The General Traffic Regulations do not define the clothing that must be worn, but it does require that it allow you to maintain adequate freedom of movement.

A traffic officer can perceive a risk if a driver is seen wearing a coat that is too thick, for example, or more likely at this time of year, not wearing a shirt.

Similarly, wearing inappropriate footwear such as flip flops may prevent the driver from manoeuvring safely and can easily be identified as a reason for a driver not maintaining full control of a vehicle, and so can result in a fine.

Holding your phone while driving

Even if you are not using it, just holding your mobile phone in your hand is an offence in Spain.

The driver must maintain both hands on the steering wheel at all times, unless engaged in the function of driving, such as changing gears, for example.

Using the horn for no reason

Another gesture that is not allowed is to use the horn when it is not necessary. If it is not used to warn of a danger, you could be fined.

Washing the car in the street

In accordance with the General Traffic Regulations, it is prohibited to wash the car in the street. However, the sanction depends on the local council. On the other hand, it is not allowed to change the oil in the middle of the street.

These actions fall under the same rules as depositing items of risk on the road, such as soapy water, but in addition, also fall foul of environmental laws.

Eating while driving

When you’re on a long drive, it can be common to get hungry. In this case, it is best to stop to eat and drink water.

Remember, the driver must be in full control of the vehicle at all times. Hands on the steering wheel, which cannot happen if the driver is eating.

Parking in the same place for too long

In many municipal ordinances there is a time limit for parking on the street, in which the car must be moved or make sure that it can remain parked.

You need to check with the local town halls, but as an example, in some areas of Madrid, the maximum is 5 days, but it is reduced to 2 days in places.

Driving in the left or centre lane

This is one of the gestures that is repeated the most when driving on motorways and dual carriageways.

In Spain, we drive on the right, in fact, generally speaking, as far to the right as possible, and the righthand lane on multiple lane roads is the normal driving lane. Additional lanes are for overtaking only, and you must return to the normal driving lane once the move is completed.

Driving with one hand or sticking your arm out the window

As we have already mentioned, the correct driving position involves having both hands on the steering wheel at all times. Therefore, resting your elbow on the window is not allowed, nor is putting your arm out the window, as this could be interpreted as a hand signal.

Overloading the vehicle

There are many rules regarding carrying goods and items in vehicles, but a common occurrence in summer is vehicles crammed with items such as beach paraphernalia, like inflatables.

You must not overload the vehicle, you must ensure visibility, and you must have all doors (including the boot) securely closed when driving.

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