Our Top Tips When Driving in Spain & France

August 20, 2018

If you're planning to drive in Spain or France, it is essential that you get to grips with the different rules and regulations.

Our Top Tips When Driving in Spain & France

If you’re planning to drive in Spain or France, it is essential that you get to grips with the different rules and regulations. Our guide below outlines the key things you need to know.

Driving in Spain

The minimum age for anyone driving in Spain is eighteen years old and you must carry the following documents:

  • A Full, valid driving licence
  • Proof of insurance
  • Proof of ID (passport)
  • Proof of ownership (V5C certificate)

When driving in Spain your UK insurance should give automatic third party cover. It is however recommended that you contact your insurance company to check that you have adequate cover.

When driving in Spain vehicles must include the following as a legal requirement:

  • A replacement set of light bulbs
  • A Warning triangle, One for non-registered vehicles, two for Spanish vehicles
  • Visibility Vest
  • First aid kit, this is not compulsory but recommended
  • Glasses wearers must carry a spare pair in the car at all times

Unlike France, you’re not required to have a breathalyser kit in your car. You should make a note of the more stringent drink-drive limits. The blood alcohol limit in Spain is 0.05 percent and an even lower 0.01 per cent for drivers with less than three years of experience.

Drivers must note that no child under twelve years old is allowed to travel in the front of a vehicle in Spain unless it is in a specially adapted rear-facing seat for infants.

Also, when driving on a motorway (Autopista) don’t be surprised by cars flashing their headlights before overtaking you as it’s the law that drivers must provide a warning when they are about to pass you.

The National Speed Limits in Spain are as a follows:

  • Built-up areas 31 mph (50 km/h)
  • 2nd category roads outside built-up areas 55 mph (90 km/h)
  • 1st category roads outside built-up areas 62 mph (100 km/h)
  • Motorways 74 mph (120 km/h)
  • Motorways and dual carriageways in built-up areas 49 mph (80km/h)
  • The minimum speed on motorways and dual carriageways is 37 mph (60 km/h).
  • Near schools and in some residential zones the limit is 13 mph (20kph)

Leaded petrol is usually sold as super/super 97 and unleaded as sin plomo 98  or Eurosuper 95. Diesel is known as gasoleo. It pays to remember that few rural garages are open 24 hours a day and also that they are liable to be closed for up to two hours at lunchtime and all day on Sunday. Sometimes you can drive for many miles in rural Spain without seeing a garage so don’t let your tank get low.

Driving in France

A study by the RAC has found that more than half of drivers (59%) were unfamiliar with a range of new driving regulations introduced recently in France. These have seen the speed limits on secondary ‘D’ roads reduced from 90km/h (56mph) to 80km/h (50mph) in a move designed to reduce accidents.

Like Spain, drivers must be over 18 years old to drive in France and must carry the following documents:

  • A full and valid UK driver’s licence
  • Proof of insurance
  • Proof of ownership (V5C)
  • Passport or national identification card to satisfy the French authorities.

When driving in France vehicles must include the following and drivers should also note that they are not allowed to carry speed camera detectors or sat-navs with camera locations:

  • Two French government certified (NF) certified breathalysers
  • Reflective jackets for all passengers
  • Warning triangles
  • Headlamp beam deflectors
  • GB sticker (non-GB-euro symbol plates only)

Drivers in right-hand drive cars will also need to fit headlamp beam deflectors to avoid dazzling other road users.

France has some of the strictest speed limits in Europe with drivers often being marched to cash points to pay a fine. British drivers, though, aren’t the worst speed offenders in France. According to statistics, it is the Germans followed by the Spanish and the Dutch. The British are responsible for only 8.5% of all motoring offences committed in France.

Speed limits in France are as follows:

  • 130km/h (80mph) on motorways- this drops to 110km/h (70mph) in the wet (and for drivers with less than two years driving experience since they passed their test).
  • 110km/h (70mph) on dual carriageways- this drops to 100Km/h (62mph) in the wet and for drivers with less than two years driving experience since they passed their test).
  • 50km/h (31mph) in built-up areas
  • 80km/h (43mph) outside built-up areas

Failure to comply with the new speed limits could attract an on the spot fine of up to €750 (about £670).

France has recently introduced a range of growing low emission zones within Paris, Lyon, Lille, Grenoble, Strasbourg, Toulouse, Marseille, and Chambéry. Drivers within these restricted areas have to display a Vignette Sticker which displays the environmental class of the vehicle. The stickers only cost €4.80. but if you’re caught driving without a sticker in an environmental zone you could be hit with a hefty on-the-spot fine of €68 (£61) for your car. Don’t leave applying to the last minute as these stickers can take up to an estimated 30-day for delivery.

There are six categories of stickers which are colour-coded according to how much vehicles pollute and range from the cleanest (Crit’Air 1) for electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles to the most polluting (Crit’Air 6).

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