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Madrid – By Car

Driving in Madrid is an…experience.  The streets are far too narrow to handle all of the automotive traffic, so there are always jams and backups.  Parking is just as bad, sometimes people just park in the middle of the road.  Parallel parking on the street is just inviting your bumpers to get, well, bumped, by people squeezing into the tight spots.  Underground parking is a little safer on the paint job.

The roads in Spain vary from very poor to very good, the latter especially since Spain joined the EU and has benefited from the funding from other countries over the last 20 years. The main connecting roads are generally excellent. Roads are classified thus, and they can be easily clarified on a road map.

Autopista (motorway) – A or E – prefix to road number: these can be toll roads (peajes). Maximum speed 120 kph (73 mph).

Autovia – dual carriageway, not necessarily with a central reservation.  Speed limits vary from 80 to 140 kph.

Carretera Nacional – N or CN – prefix to road number, main roads. 100 to 60 kph.

Carretera Comarcal – C – prefix, country roads. 100 to 80 kph.

Carretera Local – highway. Speeds are as signed, but usually not more than 100 kph.

Please note that the speeds are somewhat less for various classes of vehicles including towed trailers/caravans.

It is compulsory for all in the car to wear seatbelts, both front and rear where fitted. The driver is responsible for any fines where passengers are not wearing an approved belt.  Children under 12 years of age are not allowed in the front seats unless they are over 4 ft. 9 in. (150 cm), then they can unofficially get away with it. It is apparently to do with being secure in the safety belt. Also, if seated in the back, the belt must fit correctly, or a special “raising seat” must be fitted. Animals must be restrained when in the passenger section and not allowed to jump around.

The use of a mobile telephone, other than a true hands-free, while driving is now banned in Spain, even at the side of the road. You have to pull off the road completely away from any traffic. You may also not have any device in your ears to listen to music or your mobile phone etc., only allowed is something for enhancing your hearing, i.e. a hearing-aid.