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Wednesday January 22, 2014

A crash course in Spanish driving?

A few days ago while driving in the company of my Majorcan friend Marina I arrived at a roundabout and routinely indicated before taking the appropriate turn off. She frowned. Why was I always indicating? It was sooo British!

Don’t be taken for a ride in Spain unless you’ve got good insurance
According to my chum, drivers should be able to anticipate and react to the movements of those at the wheel ahead of them without the need for indicators. Similarly, her view is that if one lurches onto a main road in front of an oncoming vehicle, there’s no need to indicate because the driver can evidently see what’s afoot – presumably using psychic powers and fast reflexes? And let’s not discuss cutting across traffic lanes without warning or weaving between several lanes on a motorway at the last second to reach an exit slip road. It’s all in a day’s work for Marina. I find her lack of road etiquette and frenetic driving methods utterly baffling – and unnerving – and if other islanders are of the same persuasion it’s hardly surprising to learn that of every region in Spain, the Baleares was the only one to show an increase in the number of road crashes and accidents involving injuries during the last year.
In a recent report, the Spanish association of insurance companies (UNESPA) revealed that there were 1.7 million crashes in Spain during 2013 – about one every 18 seconds – that Friday was the worst day to be on the roads, with more than 5,600 accidents – and that on Mondays in Madrid there was a crash every two minutes. Maybe the Boomtown Rats drew inspiration for their popular ditty, I don’t like Mondays following a stressful road trip to Madrid. Who can say?
Despite such alarming statistics, the number of crashes on Spanish roads has actually decreased year on year by nearly 4 per cent except – of course – in the Baleares. For those of a nervous disposition, Soria appears to be the safest bet with a crash only taking place every three hours –phew – and Ceuta promises to be a safe haven with just 2, 645 car crashes per annum. By contrast Andalucía recorded a worrying 335, 675 accidents on the road last year with Catalonia and Madrid, chomping at the bit in second and third place.
Of the 31 million or more vehicles on the road in Spain, 28.6 million are insured which is all well and good but what about the rogue 2.4 million maniacs careering about the place without insurance?
Coming to think of it, I’ve never asked Marina whether she’s insured or not. Judging by the state of her car which has more dents than a First World War tank, I can only imagine that she has a saintly and benevolent insurance company or that she’s never bothered to make a claim. Either way, in the light of recent road statistics in Majorca, I might have to become a crashing bore and insist that whenever we hit the town, she permits me to take the wheel. Marina loves driving and thinks that she’s doing me a favour when she offers me a lift but I must stand firm, reminding myself of that wise old adage that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

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