Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Driving in Spain

Driving in Spain is sometimes a pleasurable experience and sometimes a pain.
Driving around the Spanish countryside is an absolute delight - EEC funding has enabled many new roads to be built. These carriageways are usually long, wide, straight and devoid of traffic. Spain is a much less densely populated country than the UK and on many an occasion I have driven a 100-kilometre route and hardly seen another vehicle.
Driving in towns, however, is mostly an irritating experience.
Most Spanish people I have met have been most charming but once they get behind the wheel they are mostly ignorant peasants - or at least the ones I have encountered in Roquetas and Almería are! They break most of the rules of the road. They don't appear to know what indicators are for, they accelerate at crossings and roundabouts and some of them drive three abreast down a two-lane highway. Many male Spaniards are very macho when they drive - no matter what speed I travel at they nearly always try to overtake. I sometimes wonder whether they are trying to compensate for some inadequacy - like a small dick!
Most do not stop at crossings. On one occasion, after about six cars failed to slow down let alone stop at a pedestrian crossing, I had had enough. I strode determinedly onto the crossing whilst looking at the driver as if to say "You jolly well stop you bastard!" although I was ready to rapidly withdraw if he didn't. He didn't. He pulled into the outside lane and drove round me!
Some drivers here do stop at crossings - I suspect that they are British motorists. However, we still have to be very wary when this happens otherwise a maniac driver in the far lane might catapult us into the air. This happened to a British resident of our apartment block a couple of years ago. He attempted to cross the busy Calle Alicun, which is only a few hundred metres from our building. A motorist ploughed into our neighbour as he crossed the far lane using the crossing. He died in hospital a few days later.
Spanish drivers are lazy bastards. They double park, park on crossings, park on the pavement - park anywhere to save walking ten metres. There is a very nice new theatre near our apartment in Roquetas. Recently a spanking new, large, free car park was built alongside. Most days it is empty and only gets full on market days or when there is a show on. Opposite the theatre are two cafes. Quite often a number of cars double-park outside the cafes whilst the car park opposite was empty! But I suppose, in mitigation, the drivers were afraid to cross the road in case yet another maniacal Spanish driver catapulted them into the air!
Everywhere I go I encounter cars with dents and scratches and crumpled bumpers. Palm trees and road signs lean precariously in testimony to the driving habits of the Spanish driver.
It is not all doom and gloom, however. As I previously mentioned, it is a joy to drive along Spanish country roads. Another good thing about living here is that I no longer encounter 4x4s driven by dolled up females delivering their sprogs to school every morning. I reckon they drive these large 'off road' vehicles to avoid doing themselves damage when they bump into things!

Safety First for Pedestrians in Spain
1. If you are able-bodied and wish to cross a road, look both ways and if there are no vehicles in sight it may be safe to cross.
2. If you are able-bodied and wish to cross a two lane in each direction highway with no central reservation using a crossing - only cross if cars are but specks in the distance.
3. As item 2 but with a central reservation - look left and then cross if cars are only specks in the distance and then only as far as the central reservation. Repeat for further lane but first look right.
4. If you are able-bodied wishing to cross at a pedestrian crossing and a vehicle in the nearest lane stops for you - tentatively start walking but wait, retreat, make a dash for it or proceed gracefully depending on the demeanour of the motorists in the farthest lane.
5. If you are able-bodied and wish to cross a road but not at a crossing - you are taking your life in your hands - you'll probably be ok in the country but watch out for snakes and wild boar!
6. If you are not able-bodied - best to stay indoors and order meals-on-wheels!

Robert Bovington
Roquetas de Mar

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