How to stay alive as an expat motorist in Spain

How to stay alive as an expat motorist in Spain

How to stay alive as an expat motorist in Spain

Since Brexit became inevitable, Brits unwilling to give up their retirement dreams are rushing to finalise their departures from the home country, with Spain still a favourite destination.

Now that’s it’s certain freedom of movement and other EU state membership benefits will remain until the end of this year, those desperate to leave the UK for a cheaper, warmer location are finalising their departures. Spain has always been the destination of choice for British retirees and entrepreneurs looking for a cheaper cost of living and fewer hassles of the Brit variety. For older, newly-arrived UK expats, exploring their immediate surroundings is a must, and doing it by car is the preferred method.

Buying a car in Spain is relatively straightforward, as is either using an international driving permit or converting a UK license to its Spanish equivalent. What’s not so straightforward is coping with Spanish roads and Spanish drivers, with the shock/horror reaction a frequent occurrence. Wherever expats hang their hats in Spain, its notoriously bad drivers are commonplace.

Whether it’s driving under the influence, speeding, straightforward collisions or hit-and-run’s, new expat motorists will experience the worst driving standards in the whole of the EU. Last summer’s fatalities due to road accidents were the highest for seven years, with 259 people losing their lives during July and August. The full year ended with almost 1,100 deaths. As expected over the festive season, the roll-out of a dedicated safety campaign made little or no difference to injuries and fatalities, the vast majority of which were down to drink-driving, with speeding coming in a close second.

Local English language media picked up on one Brit who’d been a professional driver all his life, asking him for his take on the reasons behind the road carnage. His reply was that no-one knows what they’re doing once they get behind the wheel. Other expat responders to similar questions pointed out speeding, poor use of indicators, confusion at roundabouts, driver distractions such as mobile phones and poor lane discipline.

The moral of this tale for newly-arrived expats is to ensure you have health insurance as an addition to Spain’s at-present UK-backed service, refresh your own driving talents and never, ever drink and drive, use your phone in the car or get into a road race with a Spanish driver!

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