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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.