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We all know what to expect when we get behind the wheel of a car and take our lives in our hands when we drive in Spain, but did you know how the Spanish sit their driving test? Well here is a run down of what they have to do before they get their driving licence.
Both unlicensed drivers and many non-EU citizens are required to take a driving test in order to obtain the Spanish license required of all residents in this country. If the test is available in your native language at this time, you're troubles are nearly solved. Proceed to seek out an academy that offers support, manuals and practice tests, pay your fees and continue with the course until you pass both the written and the practical test.
If the test is not available in your native language, you will have to take it in Spanish, and this can be tricky for non-native speakers. The test consists of 40 questions, of which you can miss three (year 2006). However, the questions are "trick questions" and, thus, not easy to figure out, even for Spaniards.
Probably the most important thing to understand as you go into this process is that it is well-known as a money maker for the government and the driving academy industry. The test is purposely designed to ensure that failure rates remain as high as possible and those taking the test have to re-take it as many times as possible.
You will be allowed three chances to pass both the written and the driving test before having to pay a fee that buys you three more chances. The three chances can be divided however you like. For example, if you pass the written test the first time around (don't count on it), you have two chances to pass the practical test. Should you pass the written on your second try, you will have only one chance to pass the practical section.
For those of us who come from countries with different systems, this form of testing can be quite degrading. You can memorize the driving manual backwards and forward, understand everything it says and score well on practice tests, but still fail the big test. What's more, you will not be told what you missed on the test, which means you will be unable to contest the results.
Before losing heart though, take a look at the roads and think about how many have somehow made it through the long process. At the same time, be advised that a variety of driving tests do exist. Special tests are available for those with physical handicaps, for example, there is a test especially designed for deaf/mute persons. The test is comprised of the same 40 questions offered to everyone else, only they are straightforward with no tricks involved. There are also video-based tests for those who cannot read or write, but need a license for work purposes.
If you are having difficulties obtaining your license, it may be useful to politely question the traffic authorities regarding the possibility that you take a different version test. Be prepared to explain your reasons for needing the license. And remember, that very often, issues are more negotiable in Spain than in more rigid societies.
While on the subject of driving in Spain, the law requires you to carry your;
1. Driving license, car document's and insurance at all times.
2. Seat belts are worn front and back at all times.
3. Less than 25mg/100ml of alcohol be in the blood (much less than many other countries) Only one small glass of wine or beer!!!
4. Two warning triangles be carried. (Should be placed at 50 and 150 meters behind your vehicle)
5. Do not use a mobile phone whilst driving unless completely hands free system.
6. Children under 12 are not permitted in front seats or on a motorcycle.
7. Radar detectors are illegal as is warning drivers ahead of a checkpoint.
8. First Aid Kit.
9. Set of spare bulbs and the tools to change them.
10. If you wear glasses to drive then you must carry a spair pair in the car.
11. Reflective Vests for driver and each and every pasenger of the car, so if its a five/seven seter, five/seven vests.
None of the above items are provided in any hire cars here in Spain, the hire company's state that the items havea habit of walking, be warned that if you are stopped by the Traffico you will get a fine for not carrying the items, you might be able to re-claim the fine back from the hire car company. If you are a regular user of hire cars then it might be wise to carry a kit of the above items for use while you are hiring a car.
The European "Good Samaritan Law" requires every driver to stop and provide assistance when encountering an accdent or incident, providing it is safe to do so. This may require a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher and it is therefore strongly advisable to carry these items when driving in Europe.
Insurance Policies, Somewhere, in the smallprint of most policies, is a statement to the effect that it is the driver's responsibility to ensure that the vehicle complies with the law and is roadworthy for thye country he/she intends to visit. Failure to discharge this responsibility could result in the company repudiating liability under the policy.
Failure to comply In the event of prosecution and conviction for failure to comply with the legal requirements, the courts in all EU countries have wide powers to impose swingeing penalties, and the arresting officers have extensive powers to impose "On The Spot Fines". The moment these are demanded, they have to be paid in cash, in the local currency, to the arresting officer. Credit Cards or Travellers Cheques are not accepted,and in some countries inability to pay, risks impounding the drivers car until the fine is paid.
Fines Traffic Violations are divided into three categories:
Very serious "muy grave" incur fines from €302 to €602 and suspension for up to 3 months include:
1.refusing to take a breath test.
2. exceeding the speed limit by 50%.
3. reckless driving.
4. driving in the wrong direction against traffic.
6. carrying 50% more passengers than seats.
Serious "grave" incur fines from €91 to €302 and possible suspensions include:
1. Speeding in excess of 50%.
2. Parking in a dangerous position.
3.Negligence such as driving without lights.
4. Throwing out an object which could cause an accident or fire.
Minor "menor" incur fines up to €91 and includes:
1. Parking tickets.
Offenders may obtain a 30% discount for prompt payment or may pay a policeman on the spot.
Non residents tourists are usually fined on the spot. The fine may be a "garantia" so that you can continue you trip and you could then contest the fine later in court.
Headlamp Beam Adaptors Failure to adapt your headlamps at anytime Day or Night, will render your vehicle Unfit for use on the road and could invalidate your motor insurance Be warned!
120 km/h on motorways.
100 km/h on dual carriageways.
90 km/h on single carriageway roads.50 km/h in towns.
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