Let’s start with avoiding fines as you can be fined for almost anything here, and knowing what fines exist will make your stay a lot cheaper.
Parking – don’t park on a yellow line. They will catch you and they will fine you.
Single white lines – If there is a single white line in the middle of the road you can’t cross it.
Carry all your documents ALL the time. The police can stop you anywhere and ask to see your paperwork. You need
Your permiso de conducir (driving license)
Your permiso de circulación (Car certificate)
Your insurance AND the last bank statement showing you have paid it. If you don’t have the statement you can be fined. However, the police can now access this information from their cars so some insurance companies don’t issue papers any more.
Your ID (DNI or passport) – They can fine you for not having it.
Your last road tax payment.
You need to carry at least 2 flourescent bibs. One for the driver and one for each passenger. (buy them in the Euro shop or in a garage)
You have to have a triangle in case you have an accident.
Now the driving – Spanish drivers are fine. They are not the aggressive, erratic Seat Marbella driving lunatics you see on TV. However there are a few subtle differences in their driving that are worth knowing before you venture out on a Canarian road.
They use horn a lot, and will shout and gesticulate at you for no particular reason. Unless you have cut them up smashed into their new Seat or driven them off the road, ignore them – some people just like to overreact.
Gran Canaria drivers have no idea how to use a roundabout because in the Canarian driving test they are taught that any car in the outside lane has priority. Therefore, if you are going round the inside of a roundabout and someone overtakes you on the outside and you crash into them when you are leaving the roundabout, you will have a hard time convincing them it is their fault. You can try and use the inside lane if you want to be pedantic but its safer to always use the outside lane.
Reverse parking – get good at it. Unless you want to pay extortionate Canarian parking fees you are going to need to know how to fit your wheels into a space designed for a bicycle.
But don’t be afraid driving in the Canary Islands. In general, it is no different from anywhere else and far easier than London. If you want to go up to the mountains though make sure you have a good head for heights, some of the roads in the south and on the north coast have over 1000 metre sheer drop on one side! The views are pretty spectacular though and it’s well worth soiling your pants for a bit to see them.
It is polite to pull over if you are driving the car that is holding up a load of locals on mountain roads.
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