Thursday, January 6, 2011
Off Topic : Driving in Spain? Careful!
I've been driving here since 1989....the road system has improved greatly, and before driving was only OK, but without the common courtesy we expect and give in the UK, you know the ...."after you!"...."oh no, please, after you!" thing that we used to do. But now?
Before we had intersections with traffic lights. Too many lights, but....relatively safe, if you obeyed the red means stop, green for go code. Over the last 4 years the DGT (Dirección General de Trafico) in their wisdom have gone for more roundabouts. Great...you may think. But, unfortunately, they decided to reinvent the wheel, and with terrible consequences. Firstly....roundabouts are to control traffic and replace traffic lights. Here many roundabouts include lights which completely defeat the object. Secondly and worst of all.....we have all seen how well roundaboiuts work in the UK if you obey 2 basic simple rules:
1. Never go round the outside.
2. Always give way to those already on the roundabout.
The geniuses at the DGT in Madrid know better however, and made 2 rules that make the natural function of a roundabout almost totally impossible :
1. (remember in Spain you are going round anticlockwise). When on a roundabout you have to give way to the right, and are not required to put yourself on the inside if you are taking the third exit.
2. You only have to give way to those on the roundabout if they are in the lane you are going on to.
Rule 1 means that, effectively, the inside lane of a roundabout is redundant. Say you have 2 lanes going into a roundabout....you take the inside lane to go straight on, as you know (or expect) that those on the outside lane are going to turn right at the first exit or go straight on as you will. Wrong! In Spain "going round the outside" is legal. If you do as I do and use the inside to go straight on, and some numpty drives across the exit and you have the bad luck to have him drive into you.....he is in the right. Incredible but true. Rule 2 also makes the inside lane worthless, as those coming on to the roundabout see the outside lane as free, and come on just as you are indicating to come off. Result? Chaos, horns, shouts, insults, bumps, scrapes, increased insurance and bodyshops full of dented vehicles. The DGT solution? Instead of teaching the 2 basic rules we all have drummed into us in the UK...they say that you must go round again and try to get into the outside lane as soon as possible (even if that means driving right across other exits - of course, as those exiting have to give way to the right).
Then we have the almost total lack of any form of indication. I'm a stickler for this, even if I can't see any other cars, I still indicate, as otherwise I am saying that I am infallible, and have 360º vision and can always see everything, cars, pedestrians, cats, dogs and anything else that may possibly be in the way or be wanting to avoid me. I would say that 35% of Spanish drivers never use the indicators, another 30% only when it suits them, and the rest only most of the time. Don't expect to know what other drivers are thinking of doing.
The mobile phone. Girls are most guilty. I had some bird bump my beemer reversing out of the school car park a few weeks ago. I mean, reversing is already a challenge for the female of the species, but reversing with 3 screaming kids in the back while balancing and phone under your chin whilst discussing shopping or whatever they cluck on about .....that's asking for trouble. Every time I see strange driving, in a good 90% of times the driver in question is on their mobile. I even saw a geezer on a motorbike texting while travelling along at 80.
Don't expect any thanks for letting anyone through or for giving way either. None will be given....they just think you're a mug. Motorway slip roads? Don't be surprised if you have the ridiculous situation of a bunch of cars trying to come off the motorway while another bunch are all trying to get on, all within the same 100 metre stretch.
The DGT take the easy PC route and blame 99.9% of accidents on excess speed. Of course if we all drove around at 20 kilometers an hour there would be no accidents. But their crazy, skimpy road design, and unbelieveable, suicidal attempts to reinvent roundabout flow, are causing massive problems. Every day it's getting worse and I see terrible driving each time I go out.
I myself am the lovechild of Sterling Moss and Jenson Button.
Posted by Guiri at 3:07 PM