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Last week, we spoke about maintaining the correct position when we are sat in a vehicle, specifically, in that case, related to the potential and “life changing” injuries that can be caused by putting your feet on the dashboard.

However, the rule extends to much more than that, as Article 18, Section 1 of Royal Decree 1428/2003 of 21 November, approving the Rules of the road, states that “The driver of a vehicle must maintain their own freedom of movement, the required field of vision and permanent attention to driving“, which covers a whole multitude of sins (and potential fines).

Keeping both hands on the steering wheel, not leaning with an elbow on the window, keeping your arms inside the vehicle may have been the repetitive messages our driving instructor taught us when we first took lessons, but the advice is still very much key to a safe driving experience.

When used correctly, the vehicle´s seats and features offer the maximum protection in the event of a collision. If we do anything to change the characteristics of these features, we risk our safety tremendously.

Arms and legs should be kept inside the protective shell of the vehicle. Sticking your head, arms or legs out of the window is not a very good idea.

There are countless documented cases of motorists suffering serious injury when “clipped” by a passing car, as well as the more gruesome stories of the loss of limbs in the event of a crash. Having an arm out of the window also poses a risk to other road users such as cyclists and motorcyclists. Being able to put your head out of the window implies that the seatbelt is not worn correctly. If your body parts are not within the safety cage of the vehicle, then you are at risk and are risking others.

Arms extended from the vehicle may also confuse other road users who might think that you are giving hand signals, thus posing a risk that those drivers may incorrectly react to what they think you are gesturing. Visibility may also be obscured as a result, blocking the vehicle´s mirrors and making it difficult to observe the vehicle surroundings correctly.

An arm outstretched to the left actually means you intend to turn left. It is a hand signal which may be used in the event of your indicators not working, for example. Your left arm out the window and at a right angle means you intend to turn right. Extending your arm out of the window with your palm facing backwards means you intend to reverse.

Reversing hand signal in Spain

There are other hand signals too, but these main ones, which foreign drivers may not even be aware of, show how a simple move of putting your arm out the window to feel the breeze can be construed as being a hand signal.

Cyclists and VMP (scooter) drivers should also use hand signals correctly.

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