|Tuesday, January 18, 2022
You are here: Home » Motoring world » Emma & Graham Swain » Driving abroad
  • Follow Us!

Driving abroad 

I am sure we will all have heard by now the term Middle Lane Hogger here being used in Spain for drivers who only use the centre lane on a motorway, as it is commonly used in the UK but some may not know that it is an offence here in Spain to do so and a fine can and has in cases been implemented.

To clarify the UK Traffic rules are in the Highway Code and rule number 264 applies which clearly states “You should always drive in the left hand lane when the road is clear. If you are overtaking a number of slower moving vehicles, you should return to the left hand lane as soon as is safely possible.

In Spain, Article 31 of the Traffic Laws state that we should drive as far to the right as is possible. On roads with more than one lane in the same direction the normal lane should be the right hand lane, although one is permitted to use another lane when circumstances permit or dictate. An extension to this rule is also “provided you do not hinder the progress of another vehicle.” We can see then that although the wording is slightly different the same rules apply in both countries.

A lot of people have some difficulty in understanding the rules of the road and driving laws. The Highway Code states these rules but it seems that many drivers both new and experienced fail to grasp the rules correctly.

In Spain as in the UK the same rules apply a fixed penalty or fine can be applied to drivers ignoring this rule, this is in no way targeted at foreigners only or any other excuse but because the law dictates the normal lane for driving in Spain is the right hand lane and to claim that no one else was around is not a feasible excuse to give if caught committing this type of offence.

Some interesting facts about foreigners driving abroad has come from a survey carried out by Tom Tom. Of the estimated 20 million Brits who intend to drive abroad this summer whether it be Spain Germany, France or another European country, almost 12 million, could find themselves on the wrong side of the road, a very large proportion of drivers and from this we can see why there are so many accidents and incidents involving foreigner drivers in a country that they are not familiar with.

A new Europe wide study of over 10,000 drivers, of which almost 2000 were from the UK has shown that almost 44% of British drivers intending to drive abroad this year, approximately 71% had little or no knowledge of the driving laws in their destination. 85% stated that they had done some research into local driving laws they were stumped by many. For example in Spain in some places it is only permitted to park on one side of the road at certain times of the day and the other side at other times! Confusing for even the locals one would think.

Many admit it is not just the regulations that confuse or stress them but also not knowing when and where to park, driving on the “wrong” side of the road, not knowing which lane to use or the correct speed limit to name but a few. Approximately two thirds of people questioned in this survey admitted they would prefer someone else to drive as they do not feel confident as they do in their home country and also that the stress caused can spoil their holiday.

Therefore you should do as much research as possible before travelling and ensure that you are a confident and competent driver and familiarise yourself with your vehicle fully before setting off on any journey. A handy tip is to try and remain behind a vehicle in order to avoid being on the wrong side of the road!