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DRIVING

How misusing fog lights when driving in Spain can cost you

With the cold weather in Spain often comes foggy days, rain and snowfall in the mountainous areas, all reducing visibility while driving, but did you know that you can actually be fined for using your lights incorrectly?

How misusing fog lights when driving in Spain can cost you
The fines you can get for the misuse of fog lights in Spain. Photo: granagramers / Pixabay

When fog appears and visibility is reduced, Spain’s General Directorate of Traffic (DGT), states that your front fog lights and rear fog light will help you to both see better and be seen by other drivers.  

But, they warn that you should be careful because if you use them incorrectly you can momentarily blind other drivers and could be at risk of being fined.  

Fog lights should only be used to see and be seen in low visibility conditions and using them in other types of circumstances could lead to a fine of €200.

Front fog lights

Front fog lights are not mandatory and are not a feature on all vehicles. If your car has them, you must make sure they are only used in conditions where your visibility has been significantly reduced. They may be used on their own or in conjunction with short-range lights.  

You can also use them at night on narrow windy roads, less than 6.5 metres wide, however, you must be careful when using them in this situation as they can be reflected in your rear-view mirrors and temporarily blind you.  

Rear fog lights

Rear fog lights are bright red lights that make the vehicle more visible from behind and are more intense than normal tail lights. Cars can have one on the left or in the center; or two, on the outer edges. 

It is mandatory for all cars to use these in unfavorable conditions, which include very thick fog, very heavy rain or lots of snowfall. You must make sure to turn them off in traffic jams or when there are lots of other vehicles around, however, so as not to blind the drivers behind you. 

Full headlight beams

The DGT warns that even though you may want to put your full-beam headlights in the fog, it can actually be counterproductive, as the beams will bounce off the fog and back at you, causing your visibility to decrease even more.  

Tips for driving in the fog: 

According to the DGT, the majority of fatal traffic accidents in the fog are caused by human error that almost always have to do with unforeseen and unnecessary braking, stopping on the hard shoulder without proper signs, or not keeping a safe distance between you and other vehicles. They have put together a list of tips for driving in low-visibility conditions. 

Pay attention to road markings
Make sure to pay attention to the longitudinal marks on the ground and stick to them, this will help to keep your car centered in the correct lane.

Reduce speed
When there is fog on the road, you must slow down so that it’s easier to stop when you need to quickly. At 50 km/h when the ground is wet a car cannot stop within 30 metres. If the fog is very dense, it is better to leave the road and park somewhere safe, while you wait for it to clear up.

Avoid overtaking
The DGT advises that is best to avoid overtaking on dual carriageways or motorways with dense traffic when it’s foggy and to keep a greater safety distance than normal.

Don’t stop on the hard shoulder
Stopping on the hard shoulder when there’s fog is a bad idea because it can be very dangerous. In fact, the DGT says that stopping on the hard shoulder should be avoided, even on sunny days, unless your car breaks down and it’s absolutely necessary. In this case, all passengers should exit the vehicle and stand on the other side of the guardrail. You must also make sure the hazard lights are on.

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DRIVING

EXPLAINED: What are the rules for parking in Spain?

If you plan on buying or renting a car, haven’t managed to switch over your UK licence yet or you’ve just moved here and are unfamiliar with the rules, here’s everything you need to know about parking in Spain.

EXPLAINED: What are the rules for parking in Spain?

If you’re planning on driving in Spain, it’s important you familiarise yourself with all the rules here, not only when moving, but while parked too. Here’s what all the different coloured lines mean for parking on the street. 

White lines

These are the easiest and simple to understand in Spain and mean that you can park anywhere within the lines, at any time for free.

READ ALSO – Driving in Spain: What changes in 2023?

Blue lines

Parking within blue lines means they are designed for visitors and you must pay to leave your vehicle there. You can make your payment at the nearest parking meter.

Be aware that each region in Spain has different rules on how long you can park your car somewhere without incurring a fine, find out what they are here.

In general, the rules apply Monday to Friday from 9am to 9pm, and on Saturdays from 9am to 3pm. Sundays and holidays, there are no restrictions. The schedule can vary in summer though in popular destinations, so always look on the signs and the parking meter to find out.

Green and orange lines

Parking within green and orange lines is reserved for residents of the area who are registered to park in those particular zones.

To obtain a permit to park within the orange and green lines, you must contact your local ayuntamiento or town hall and present the necessary documents such as your padrón certificate, driving licence and evidence you own a vehicle.

It will also be necessary to make a payment to use this service. Once you’re registered you can use both the orange and green zones without any restrictions.

Visitors can also use green and orange parking zones, but there are restrictions in place and they must pay. The price of parking within green or orange lines is always higher than the price of parking within the blue lines and you are only allowed to park for a limited time. 

The duration can vary from region to region, but it’s typically only 2 hours before you’ll have to move your car. You must remember to pay straight away and leave a ticket in your window to prove you’ve done so.

You can park freely within white lines in Spain. Photo: Anatolii Maks / Pixabay
 

Is there a difference between the green lines and the orange ones?

No, there is no difference whatsoever, you can treat them exactly the same. It may depend on the city you’re in. For example, in Madrid, Barcelona and Seville you’ll find more green lines and in Valencia and Alicante you’ll find more orange ones.

Area exclusively for residents  

Some cities also have special exclusive resident zones, these areas are depicted by showing a red circle with an X through it and a light blue background. It will also have either orange or green lines on the street, as well as this sign saying ‘Zona exclusiva de residentes’ (Area exclusively for residents) or ‘área residents‘ (residents’ area).

READ ALSO: How Spain’s new low-emission zones will affect drivers

Loading and unloading zone

These zones are marked with yellow zigzag lines, as well as a dark blue circle outlined in red and with a diagonal red slash through the middle. It is forbidden to park at any time in these areas and they’re only for loading and unloading. The maximum time for this is around 30 minutes. The sign will also indicate any additional rules, but they typically apply from Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm.

Blue-Orange lines

A dotted blue and orange line indicates one of two situations. It’s either for those visiting a health centre or hospital, where you can park for a maximum of 4 hours or it’s a long-stay area near to a train station for example. You must pay for long-stay parking spots, but they will be at a reduced rate and you can leave your car for up to 12 hours.

Yellow line

A yellow line means that parking is prohibited at all times. They are usually placed in front of garages, the entrance to car parks and areas reserved for service vehicles such as police cars or ambulances.

No parking, except for the library bus. Photo: Daniel Capilla / WikiCommons

A red circle with a blue background and an X through the middle

This sign indicates that stopping and parking are prohibited in this area.

A red circle with a blue background and one diagonal line through the middle

This means that parking is prohibited but you can stop if absolutely necessary for less than 2 minutes when the driver is in the car.

VADO

If you leave the vehicle in the regulated parking area, but do not pay for parking, you will be fined, but if you park in an area labelled VADO, your car will be towed away, as well as having to pay.  

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