Tips for driving in Fuerteventura
Are you coming to Fuerteventura but unsure about hiring a car and driving in Fuerteventura as you have never driven abroad before? Hopefully I can convince you to give it a try. You will see much more of the island and be glad that you did, believe me.
If you are coming from the UK and have never driven a left-hand drive car on the “wrong side” of the road before then it can be quite daunting and nerve-racking. But don’t worry. There is probably no easier place in Europe to do it for the first time than driving in Fuerteventura.
The roads in Fuerteventura are really well maintained, well signposted and have relatively little traffic on them. Most drivers here are quite patient, perhaps more so than in the UK. And you will not have to worry about traffic jams as they are an unknown phenomenon here thankfully.
On a lighter note, perhaps the hardest thing is to remember to get in the correct side. I did get into the right-hand seat once when I was not thinking. It took a split second to realise that there was no steering wheel in front of me. As there were people nearby, to save face, I made out I was looking for something in the foot-well before getting out and into the driver’s side. I think I got away with it!
You may find my article on advice for renting a car in Fuerteventura helpful.
My tips for first time “wrong side of the road” drivers
The pedals (clutch, brake and accelerator) are all in the same place as in a right-hand drive car. So the only difference is that you have to use your right hand to change gear instead of your left. You will soon get used to that.
Tip 1. Staying on the correct side
Once you are driving it is pretty easy to actually always be on the correct (right) side of the road. I think the “danger” times are when you stop, perhaps for fuel, or to visit something. At that point you could just turn on to the wrong side of the road when leaving. Just make sure you take extra care after you have stopped.
Remember, the driver should always be nearest to the centre of the road, not your passenger.
Tip 2. Roundabouts
Obviously one of the big differences is that you will be going counterclockwise around the roundabouts, not clockwise. You will soon get used to that though.
No matter what they may think, the Spanish do not know how to negotiate roundabouts. They often either don’t indicate, or they indicate incorrectly, when approaching or are on a roundabout.
If the roundabout is single lane then that is not normally a problem. However, on two lane roundabouts, many just stay in the right-hand (outer) lane even if they are going all the way around to go back the way they came. The safest thing for you to do, as wrong as it seems if turning left for example, is to follow suit and stay in the outside lane.
Fortunately there aren’t that many two lane roundabouts you are likely to encounter when driving in Fuerteventura so don’t worry about it.
Tip 3. Junctions
When you stop at a junction, to pull on to a main road, make sure you look in both directions to make sure nothing is coming. That way you won’t get confused and just look right, as you might in the UK, and pull out in front of an approaching car coming from the left. Here you need to look to the left of course.
Tip 4. An unusual custom
Something you may come across is if you are following a few cars on a main road, and you approach a turn off to the left, the cars in front may slow and all of them indicate left.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are all turning left as it is the custom here to also indicate left, even if you are going straight on, to warn the driver/s behind not to overtake as someone is turning left in front. Once the car turning left does then the others behind cancel their indicators and continue.
I can at least see some sense in this.
A few driving laws to be aware of
Laws similar to the UK
Just like in the UK there are laws against:
- using a mobile phone while driving (or even having one available as that shows intent to use it)
- not wearing seatbelts
- children in child seats etc. (Most car hire companies provide these free of charge)
Drink drive limit Fuerteventura
Of course, drink driving is also illegal (and in my opinion if you are driving you shouldn’t drink anything anyway) but you should be aware that the legal limit is lower here than in the UK. It is only 50 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood here whereas in the UK it is 80 milligrammes.
So if you are going to have a drink be aware that you can only drink half the amount you can in the UK before you are over the limit.
Don’t chance it. If you are driving stick to soft drinks or alcohol free beer (which is available in bars and restaurants everywhere here, unlike in the UK). Ask for a “cerveza sin alcohol.”
Laws particular to Fuerteventura (and Spain)
There are some specific laws to be aware of here. While some of these things might also be illegal in the UK, and covered within the “Driving without due care and attention/careless driving” offence, it would have to be proven that your driving fell below the expected driving level of a competent driver in doing so.
Here they are specific offences (absolute offences) so if you were doing any of them no proof is needed to show it adversely affected your driving. You were doing it, so you are guilty. Fines will be issued for any of them, starting at 100€ and going up steeply.
Driving with an arm out of the window
If you like to drive with the window open (and who doesn’t here), make sure you don’t drive with your arm resting on the door in the open window. If you are seen that will be an instant fine.
Driving without a shirt
Driving a car without a shirt on ie. topless, will get you a fine too. Perhaps if you are a good looking young female doing it the police may just let you off with a warning (a very long warning)!
Driving in flip flops or barefoot
While it seems like a great idea to just wear your flip flops for the whole of your stay, or to come off the beach in bare feet and just hop in the car to drive home, if the police stop you they will not be impressed and neither will your bank account.
Pumping fuel with the radio on
Yes, really! Apparently they believe that this may increase the likelihood of an explosion.
Carry spare glasses
If you have to wear glasses for driving then you are required to carry a spare pair with you, which you might be required to show.
Stop means stop
At a road junction with a stop sign (and it does say stop) you are expected to stop (and apply your handbrake I believe.) That applies even if you can see for a mile that there are no cars coming at all.
I have known a few people who have been fined for not stopping at a stop sign.
I must admit it is not a law I adhere to unless I have to for safety’s sake (or I see a police car). To quote one of my hero’s, Douglas Bader, “Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men.”
If you really want to get advice on Spanish Traffic Law, and how it is applied, then you can download this pdf file written in English by Spanish Traffic Officers – Spanish Traffic Law.
Hopefully I have allayed any fears you may have had about driving in Fuerteventura and you now feel ready to bite the bullet and book a car for your visit. You may find my article on advice for renting a car here helpful.
Other driving in Fuerteventura articles
Fuerteventura Roads – A timelapse of the roads in the north
This is my video about my favourite drive in Fuerteventura: