Filed under the heading of This too shall pass – we are no longer intimidated by driving anywhere in Spain. We´ve traversed the country enough that we´ve seen it all and experienced scenarios that might have felt scary even 6 months ago but are now common place. `Double Snowmen´ as Jeff calls them. Multiple round-abouts that are connected to one another. Things like that. But like everything over the past year, it seems the DGT (Department of Traffic) has decided to have a re-think about some of the rules and they´ve been publishing them in the newspaper so we can get ready for January 2nd. Here´s a list of some of the new rules.
We all have reflective vests in our cars and reflective triangles. If you break down on the side of the road or have an accident you´re supposed to put on your reflective vest (each person exiting the car must wear one) and put out triangles you keep in your car. One behind the bumper and then another further down the road to alert other drivers that there is a vehicle that is stalled. It´s a manoeuvre that is fraught with danger on an auto via or motorway. Many people die each year hit by other cars whizzing by when they are just trying to keep others from hitting them in the first place. So now the DGT is changing the rule. We will not exit the vehicle. We will put a flashing light on the roof – similar to a police vehicle- that attaches via magnet. This will keep the occupants safe while waiting for assistance and other drivers from being endangered. Where do we buy these new required lights? We have no idea. We went to Bauhaus (Lowes) to see if they had them yesterday but no such luck. I´ll keep you posted if we find them.
Going 20 km an hour over the posted speed limit is also not allowed from 2nd of January. No more whizzing by others on the motorway at 140. Nope. If the car in front of you is going 120 and that is the posted speed you will have to stay behind them or risk being pulled over or sent a ticket in the mail from the radar cameras. Highway deaths are out of control and they´re even considering lowering the regular speed limits so hopefully this works and they don´t have to.
Using your mobile in the car with your hand, even when you´re not speaking into it (like for a GPS) will now be prohibited. They want people to stop using their phones. We see people all the time on speaker phone with their phone in their hand. It´s less hands-free and more ear-free speaking. But then again, we see this all the time with people just walking down the street on speaker phone shouting over the noise and hearing whomever they´re speaking to shouting back. On the Metro in a subway car this is annoying. So no more of that in the car. The fines are 200€ and its gone from 3 to 6 points on your license. A serious offence.
Failure to wear a seat belt, or a helmet on a motorbike, will see you fined even further next year. And your penalty goes from 3 to 4 points.
If you´re in town and you´re traversing one of the very small streets you can´t go more than 20km/hr. That´s 12 miles per hour to Americans out there. So very slow. And that´s good because walking in the old city can be hazardous to your health. Now it will be less so.
If the road in town is a bit bigger you can do 30km/hr. But if there are two lanes in each direction you can continue going 50km/hr.
If you think you´re going to cheat in your driving test and use a hidden microphone you should think twice. I can´t imagine how they were able to do this but apparently it was so rampant it required an actual law to curb it´s use. It will cost you a 6 month suspension and a €500 fine.
Finally, skateboards will have to follow all traffic laws. They decided not to make electric scooter riders take a certification test – but we really wish they had. It´s a bit dangerous out there on the red bike paths of Valencia when they´re going 25km/hr on the sidewalk and you can´t hear them coming.
This is not an exhaustive list but it´s the ones we care about. 18 year olds are now allowed to apply for long haul truck driving licenses after they take the course, but since we aren´t 18 and we´re not planning on driving long haul truck I didn´t include things along these lines. All rules are coming into effect as of January 2nd. But the speed changes will be in use 6 months later to give them time to change the signs.
El Jefe only has 45 days to go before the `L´ permanently comes off our car. He´s looking forward to that! It will be interesting to learn how different it is driving cross country on our next adventure with the passing speed changes. We´ll let you know.