Driving in Gran Canaria
Buying or hiring a car is easy, driving around without being being shocked by local drivers or receiving a fine is the tricky bit…
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. It’s only €30 but to pay it is a right pain.
- Single white lines – If there is a single white line in the middle of the road you can’t cross it. Try it at your own peril. I have been caught twice in 3 years, once the policeman was hiding behind a sign and the other time in a garage. Each time I received a €40 fine even though there was no traffic anywhere near me.
- 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 WILL get a fine. 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. (you can buy them in the 1 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 Spanish drivers like to overreact.
- They have no idea how to use a roundabout – this one is important as knowing what they know will avoid too much of point number 1. 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.
- 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 Opel Astra 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.