Driving in Ibiza – Spain
When driving in Ibiza, or anywhere in Europe for that matter, the most fundamental difference from the UK is that you must DRIVE ON THE RIGHT!!! This means driving in the right-hand lane and overtaking on the left. The overtaking bit is not so easy in a right hand drive car as visibility is restricted. This can be quite scary for the passenger, as can being in the middle of the road instead of being safely on the ‘inside’. Roundabouts can be a little un-nerving – remember to go ANTI-CLOCKWISE which means you must always give way to the left.
Turning right is easy, but turning left can be disorientating as you need to cross the carriageway, so as to end up on the right. This can catch you out even after a little while, as does pulling away from rest. THINK.
Take care on the roads – many Spanish drivers believe they are closely related to Fernando Alonso. Speed limits to them are for others! The new road systems with a plethora of dual carriageways have come as a complete surprise to many locals – they have little or no concept of lane discipline. Consequently roundabouts are a nightmare, compounded by the almost complete absence of signals. You need the observation skills of a helicopter pilot!
Seatbelts are compulsory as in the UK, although many Spanish drivers think it macho to not use them. Watch out though – the police tend to be more particular with foreign registered cars. The use of mobile phones while driving is prohibited as in UK – like seatbelts though some locals have an unhealthy disregard for the safety of themselves and others.
The local police in Ibiza are notorious for being strict and handing out on-the-spot fines for speeding and other offences. They tend to be strict about new laws and roads – on the new airport road for example they had a blitz on use of headlamps.
The tunnels were lit, but the signs said headlamps must be illuminated, so, they stopped and fined anyone without headlamps on. Locals and tourists alike.
The Spanish law is also stricter on drink-driving than the UK – the maximum blood alcohol limit is 0.05%, or for drivers with less than two years experience it is just 0.03% (best advice is to not drink at all if you know you will be driving). The Police do set up random tests, breathalising everyone who passes.
Spain operates a reverse system to the UK regarding penalty points – offences result in points being subtracted from a maximum total. Minor offences such as forgetting to turn on your headlights can result in a loss of 2 points, whereas serious offences such as driving under the influence can cost you 6 points or the loss of your licence. Points are regained by attending safety courses or through good behaviour over a two or three year period.
Parking on Ibiza can be tricky, depending on the area. In busy tourist spots such as Santa Eulalia or San Antonio, it can be difficult to find a parking spot – In Ibiza town it is well nigh impossible – and you may be frustrated by the imaginative ways that locals choose to abandon their cars! Paid parking is available in the blue marked bays, but be sure to buy a ticket from the machine, and make sure it is displayed correctly. Even displaying it upside down can result in a fine!
The maximum time allowed is usually 2 hours, but the meter will have details – prices are not high compared to UK – a couple of euros at most. Tow trucks (‘Gruas’) are a common sight in Ibiza and they will not hesitate to remove an illegally parked car. If you have a newish car, be prudent about where you park. The locals park ‘by ear’ – working on the basis that bumpers are for just that purpose. Door swings are similar, which is why most locals drive old and battered cars.
A handy asset is a sun screen (or two) – available for a couple of euros, or free from some shops. They shield car interiors from the blazing sun and allows you to sit on the seats when you return. The sun also destroys plastic upholstery in a few years. Of course it goes without saying that leaving a pet in a car is an almost certain death sentence. Beware the very hot dog!!
There are approximately 13 petrol stations around the Island of Ibiza. Some require you to pay in advance, or deposit your credit card before filling up, especially at night time. Some stations have multiple language buttons that you can press to hear instructions in English.
Beware though, while Gasolina may be petrol, (sin plomb = unleaded) Gasoleo orGazole is not gasoline it is diesel. GAZOLE = GASOLEO= DIESEL! Watch out for Fiesta days. which occur at the drop of a sombrero, coz everything closes, petrol stations too!
If you break down you will need a ‘Taller’ or mechanic – remember though, things do not happen as promptly as in UK. If you have an exotic car, be prepared to wait for spares for a few weeks. Best to acquaint yourself with a ‘Taller’ sooner rather than later.