Saturday, June 24, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 24.6.17

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain. 

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here.

I'm short on time today, so here's something that some of you will want to skip and go straight to the cartoon . . . For those who might want a less serious, more amusing take on this subject, I offer this instead.

A DRIVING IN SPAIN SPECIAL

A. Speed Limits

As I reported yesterday, trying to use my satnav/GPS to keep me advised of speed limits on the N550 between Pontevedra and Santiago was an abject failure. The thing might be good for warning me of radar traps but is useless for giving accurate date on the limits. Some specifics:-

Despite supposedly having the latest data, my Garmin satnav is clearly unaware that 100kph is no longer permitted on secondary roads. I believe the limit has been 90 for a while now, unless 100 is indicated. I know of only one such stretch.

The max is rarely shown, in preference for the diagonal No Limit sign. So, it's wise to assume it's always 90. Or 80 when it rains. Which it does do occasionally here in Galicia

My satnav and actuality are frequently at odds with each other, especially where – I guess – there used to be a limit of 80 and it's now 50. In the 8.3km stretch between Estrar and Picaraña yesterday, there were at least 10 changes of limit. When it changed from 60 to 50, the satnav gave me 90. And it kept at that level when it fell further to 40.

B. Roundabouts/Circles

Here in Spain, the law used to be that you could only go on the inside lane of a 2-lane roundabout if you were making a U-turn. This was, of course, immensely stupid, as it forced 99% of drivers to funnel down into one lane, the outside one. I've no idea why this law was promulgated – perhaps to prevent anarchy/mayhem on roundabouts - but I can tell you that the Tráfico Department has changed it and has tried – through ads in the media, for example – to advise drivers that they should choose the lane appropriate to their planned exit, as in every other country I've driven in. So, Spain is no longer 'different'. The Tráfico has even gone to the lengths of painting lanes and arrows on some roundabouts, called – I think – Turborotundas.

What you need to know is that most Spanish drivers don't seem to be aware of the change. Worse, my daily experience shows that driving schools are still teaching the old rule. And examiners are presumably still applying it. What this means is that, if you're in the inside lane and going straight on – as sometimes suggested by arrows on the road before the roundabout – you will frequently have cars cutting across you on your right, heading for a later exit.

MY ADVICE

A. Speed

If you drive on a secondary road, keep an eagle eye out for the speed signs.

If you're passing through a place where it's 50, don't assume it rises as you leave it until you see another sign because, technically, the max stays at 50. I've fallen foul of this trick at least twice on out-of-town stretches. This is true even if you see a sign saying 70 as you approach each crossroad, implying that the limit has risen to (probably) 90. Though the risk of being done for speeding might be lower in this case.

Be prepared for confusion. At least here in Galicia, no one seems to have bothered to remove the End 70/80 signs that come after stretches that are now 50. But at least if you see one of these it's probably safe to assume the limit is now 90.

If you're driving on a stretch that you think – or actually is - 90 and you see a sign saying 70 or 80, hit the brake immediately as it's quite possible that:- 1. the 50 sign is only 20 metres after it, and 2. the radar machine is right below the 50 sign. I've been caught in this legal but immoral trap too.

I have in the past suggested that you never drive more than 50 on Spain's secondary roads but this, of course, is wrong as the limit sometimes drops to 40 or even 30. Or, in towns, 25.

So my advice would now be:- Either
  • Drive at 50 on secondary roads but keep your eyes open for sudden – and possibly illogical – reductions. Safety is not the issue. Be prepared for some very annoyed drivers behind you.
Or
  • Drive on any available autovia/autopista at 90, as – certainly here in Galicia – this might be the max on curved stretches. Even on straightish stretches between here and Madrid it falls to 100. Which can easily be missed.
And don't forget the legal max reduces by 10kph when there's rain. On the autovias/autopistas anyway. Not sure about the secondary roads.

B. Roundabouts
  • Be aware that almost anything can happen on these. Don't assume that everyone will do the logical thing.
  • Above all, remember that, if you hit someone in a lane to the right of you, you are responsible, no matter how stupid the other driver was being.
  • You simply MUST look in your right-hand rear mirror to see whether anyone is coming up outside you and then wait to see if they really are going straight on or going further round the roundabout. NEVER make an assumption about a driver on your right.
Left-hand rear mirror and on your left in the UK, of course. And in Japan and Australasia and a few other places.

A CASE IN POINT

Reader Sierra has cited this video of a crash in the UK, highlighting the 'debate' on social media about who was in the wrong there.

I don't know what the law would say in the UK but I can say with great conviction that here in Spain – no matter how stupid the driver of the VW was – the driver of the BMW would be judged to be at fault.

You have been warned!

Today's cartoon:-


4 comments:

Maria said...

Um, that of changing the law on which lane to use in a roundabout I believe only affects the turbo roundabouts. Regular roundabouts retain the old rules.

The slowest max speed on secondary roads is 50 as it passes through built-up areas, which for Tráfico can be only one house in a twenty kilometer stretch. It goes down only as you approach a roundabout, to 40, in some cases 30.

On autovías and autopistas the limit is 120, no matter the weather. I believe there was a debate about raising it to 130 on certain stretches of certain autovías, but I don't know if it's been implemented. As for reducing the max by ten kilometers when it's raining, I haven't heard about that. I know that's true in France, but I don't think it is in Spain. Unless it's done on the certain stretches that the max has been raised to 130, which don't seem to exist anywhere in Galicia.

Yes, you go at 50 on the N550 to Santiago all the time, and you will get a LOT of angry stares and a few honks as irate drivers, all knowledgeable of the tricks perpetrated by Tráfico, pass you. I will probably be one of them, only to brake hard as I approach an area with a limit of 50. Then you can laugh at me.

Colin Davies said...

Thanks, Maria Will have to check on the rain rule. I have certainly seen electronic reminders, but maybe in Portugal.

As for laughing at you . . . No chance I write tongue firmly in cheek and, of course, don't follow my own advice. Wouldn't get so many fines if I did.

Only on the turborotundas. . . . Could be. Will have to check that out. There are certainly arrows in the LH lane in P pointing ahead. If they don't mean you can do that, I'm lost as to their purpose. Maybe you can sue the council if you go straight ahead and get hit from the right. Or if you get a Tráfico fine for doing so. Ja ja ja.

Sierra said...

Maria - don't think the proposed 130 kph limit was actually implemented? Regularly drive the A6/A3/A7 route down to SE Spain, and there are no 130 kph stretches there - in fact they've constructed crawler lanes on the A3 hills and then imposed an 100 kph limit!

Diego said...

The Law still states you must stick to the right hand lane, always. There is a loophole written in that, unless the conditions require, not to follow this rule. I guess it´s written in to let the police be more ambitious / creative with their ticket issuing.

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