Ilivetolearn's Blog

January 20, 2007

what yellow light?

Filed under: on the road,Spain — ilivetolearn @ 8:09 pm

Spain has recently instituted a points system for driving infractions. To keep drivers informed, bits of the law are emblazoned on the light-up signs over major roadways, where they always post the highway death toll on holiday weekends. For example, “uso obligatorio del cinturon—3 puntos” means you lose three of the 12 points you start out with (plus pay a hefty fine, which can be collected on the spot by the policia) if you are caught driving without your seat belt on.

I had thought compliance with this law was already far higher than in the US, just like compliance with the cell-phone law. It’s a very common sight here to see a driver pulled over, having a phone conversation. We once waited about 20 minutes for a parking spot, thinking that the woman at the wheel was just finishing a call before vacating. But no…she seemed to be breaking up with her boyfriend, which involved much gesticulation and crying. We went elsewhere.

Ironically, the crackdown on moving violations occurs just as I have taken a page from the unofficial Spanish users’ manual on traffic lights, which is, as Elliot interprets it: Green means go, yellow means go, red means go if you want to. I’m not quite up to absolutely ignoring red lights, but I never stop for yellow. After all, without a Spanish license, I have no points to lose.

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