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DRIVING IN SPAIN

Spain has a backlog of 300,000 people waiting to sit their driving tests

A lack of examiners means that more than 306,000 learner drivers who have passed their theory exams in Spain are waiting for months to sit their practical tests.

Spain has a backlog of 300,000 people waiting to sit their driving tests
A driving school teacher takes part in a protest against the lack of examiners causing the closure of many driving schools in Spain 2020, an ongoing problem in 2022. (Photo by Jorge GUERRERO / AFP)

Passing your driving test in Spain can be a costly affair, but in recent times there’s been the added disadvantage of having to wait several months to have the chance to sit the practical test with an examiner. 

According to official data provided to Formaster, Spain’s Professional Association of Training Companies in Logistics, Transport and Road Safety, in late September there were more than 306,000 people on the waiting list across the country. 

In Catalonia alone, there are 65,148 learner drivers waiting. The Catalan government has requested taking over the process to offer more examination spaces, a proposal which has been rejected by Spanish authorities.

In the Valencia region, 14,000 learner drivers are waiting on average three months before being able to sit their practical test.

In early 2022, the waiting times in the Canary Islands were between four and five months. Hold-ups tend to worsen during the summer months as people have more free time to prepare for their practical test.

Spain’s Directorate General of Traffic (DGT) has hired 50 new examiners to attempt to address the backlog, but according to Formaster this won’t be enough to solve the bottleneck, which at the current rate will take four years to resolve. 

Spain has lost 10 percent of driving test examiners in the past twelve years. In early 2021, they numbered under 800 for the whole of Spain. 

Driving examiners accompany the learner driver and their driving school instructor in the vehicle during the practical exam, sitting in the backseat whilst giving the learner instructions during the examination. 

The DGT’s representative in Catalonia has rejected calling the holdups “a waiting list”, instead labelling it a “pool of applicants” which Spain’s traffic authority “has been working to reduce for some time”, adding that currently “about 6,000 exams are organised every eight days”. 

“We think we need around 200 examiners across Spain,” Formaster head Antonio Macedo told Spanish news website The Objective. 

The backlog is a problem for Spaniards of all ages who need to be able to legally drive for work reasons or to gain extra mobility, but also for the thousands of UK licence holders in Spain who have not been allowed to get behind the wheel since last May

Although many of them are hoping a post-Brexit licence exchange deal between Spanish and British authorities will finally be struck after two years of negotiations, they have been advised on a number of occasions by the UK Embassy in Madrid to re-sit their driving test in Spain “if they must drive”. 

The prospect of having to wait several extra months before obtaining a Spanish driving licence will potentially dissuade many of these in-limbo drivers from committing to re-sit their test rather than wait for an exchange deal to be reached.

The holdups also represent a threat for hundreds of small driving schools in Spain, particularly those in rural or less populated areas, as their inability to get practical test appointments for their customers means many are losing business and face having to close down. 

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DRIVING IN SPAIN

Driving in rainy weather in Spain: Five reasons police can fine you

Rainy or stormy weather involves even more cautious driving than usual, but there are certain driving mishaps in wet weather than can result in stiff fines and the loss of points for drivers in Spain.

Driving in rainy weather in Spain: Five reasons police can fine you

It’s not always sunny and dry in Spain. In fact, some parts of the country get quite a lot of rainfall throughout the year. 

As a result, some drivers in Spain may forget that they need to drive differently when the roads are wet.

Running a red light, not respecting zebra crossings or speeding are of course immediate fines whatever the weather, but there are certain mistakes that apply when there’s rainy or stormy weather. For all the latest news and information for drivers in Spain, check out The Local’s Driving in Spain section.

Splashing pedestrians when speeding through a puddle

Let’s face it – there are some drivers who secretly enjoy soaking pedestrians as they drive past them, but they could be in for a nasty surprise as they face a €600 fine if caught.

Spain’s traffic laws specify that road users must behave in such a way that they do not hinder traffic circulation, inconvenience people or damage property. If the police believe that you’re doing any of the above by speeding through puddles and splashing passers-by, then you could receive a hefty fine.

Not respecting the safety distance

A safe distance must always be kept between cars, but on a rainy or foggy day, the distance doubles as braking can take longer and skidding and sliding can occur more easily. You should keep a minimum distance of 100 metres or four seconds between you and the car in front. New rules also came into force this year to say that when overtaking cyclists or motorbikes, drivers must keep a safe distance of at least 1.5 metres. 

Some drivers tend to be cautious on wet roads, slowing down more than usual, but this will annoy other drivers who are in a hurry, overtaking and getting too close, forgetting to respect the necessary distance. Not sticking to the right safety distance can cost you a fine of €200 and you could lose four points off your licence.

Having a broken or damaged windshield wiper

While you may not have much rain for a while in your part of Spain, it’s still important to make sure that the parts of a car that deal with the rain are in good working order, such as the windshield wipers.

If your windows are fogged up or there are too many raindrops on your windscreen for you to see out properly and your wipers aren’t working, you can be fined up to €200.

Not keeping your lights on

In adverse weather conditions, such as rain, lights are essential, even if it’s during the day. In rainy weather, you should have your dipped headlights on (luces de cruce). If there’s persistent and thick fog, you should have the fog lights on.  If you are caught without these on you can be fined €200.

Your tyres are in poor condition

Tyre condition is even more important in wet weather as your wheels need to have enough grip for driving, braking and turning when it’s slippery. The tyre thread cannot be worn down or be below 1.6mm or you could incur a fine of €200 for each wheel, totalling €800.

READ ALSO: The new driving rules and fines in force in Spain since March 2022

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