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Motoring Book Updates, August 2006


2 August 2006

The latest advertising flyer from Linea Directa, the one with the cartoon of a man staring into a microscope, contains mistakes in that it states that a foreign EU licence is valid in Spain for only six months.   I have tried phoning the Linea Directa line (in Madrid?) 902 123 159 and after waiting to get through the electronic directory, spoken to someone and asked to be put through to a manager, explaining what the problem is, only to be cut off.  I have better things to do with my time. 

The problem is that the flyer which would have been correct about 6 to 9 months ago, has a list of the documents that need to be carried in the vehicle here in Spain and it states that you can only stay here for six months using a foreign EU driving licence, which is now incorrect, unless: 

·       You must either leave Spain and return for the licence to be usable again, or

·       Ask for your driving licence to be stamped by the “spanish” (why not Spanish) authorities (They mean Trafico), or to

·       Obtain a Spanish driving licence.  

The fact is that you do not need under EU law to get ordinary driving licences stamped/registered at Trafico any more, only the vocational ones (taxis, HGVs etc) and that is as per the EU Directive on the matter.  You may be able to get your ordinary licence registered, although E-mails are sent me where readers are reporting having been told it is not necessary anymore, and a benefit is you should be sentavisos  (advice letters) when a medical or renewal is due.

Readers have and are still sending me E-mails where they have taken their foreign EU “B” licences (for a car) to Trafico and been told that there they do not need to have it stamped anymore.  Only the vocational ones that expire at age 60 must be registered, and then it must either be changed when they expire as on the dates on the actual licence, e.g. “B” etc. at age 70, vocationals at age 60.

The full facts are in my book along with 13 pages on driving licences plus the other important information on medicals that apply to all regardless of what nationality driving licence you have.


Ayuntamiento de Marbella. 

Tariff for the vehicle road fund taxes equivalents for 2.006.

I have received an enquiry from someone (who has not yet bought my book, where the differences are explained) wondering why there are different tax rates for the impuesto municipal sobre vehículos de tracción mecanica, or the annual tax paid to the local council which in the UK, the closest equivalent is the road fund tax.  The tax is determined by each council, and it usually increases each year by about the inflation rate.  Many charge the same as Madrid which could be about the highest according to my information, but Marbella is set out below and this council's rates are about 40% less than say Benalmadena's, a town about 30 km away.   You need to check your local ayuntamieto's rate list and most provinces have a web-site where it can be seem each year.  Marbella's is

The heading is "Tarifas IVTM".  Remember that there is a fine for late payments: about 20% plus of the rate depending on how late you pay, normally the latest without a fine is in July.   Your vehicles "hp rating" is on your permiso de circulacion.

Type of Vehicle

From -To

Tax payable (€)


Cars up to 3.500 kg  (Type A)

0 – 7,99 hp


 The term “hp” = specifies fiscal hp in the Tarjeta Inspeccion Tecnica de Vehiculos under Potencia Fiscal

8 – 11,99 hp


12 – 15,99 hp


16 – 19,99 hp


20 – 999 hp


Autobuses  (Type b)

0 – 20 pz


 “pz” = number of seats

21 – 50 pz


51 – 9.999


Trucks  (Type C)

0 – 999 kg


Kg = Maximum Authorised Mass.

1.000 – 2.999 kg


3.000 – 999 kg


10.000 – 99.999 kg


Tractors  (Type D)

0 – 15,99 hp


16 – 25 hp


25,01 – 99.999 hp


Trailers & Semi-Trailers (Type E)

0 – 750 kg


751 – 999 kg


1.000 – 2.999 kg


3.000 – 99.999 kg


Other vehicles (Type F)

0 – 125 cc


“cc” = cubic centimetre engine size.

126 – 250 cc


251 – 500 cc


501 – 1.000 cc


1.001 – 99.999 cc


Cyclemotors (mopeds and scooters up to 49 cc)  (Type X)




While not really to do with motoring in Spain, as someone who lived in South Africa for 25 years and "escaping" in 1999 to Spain, several people here have asked about buying property in South Africa as a holiday venue and investment opportunity.  My wife and I always advise extreme caution, because if the property there is a bargain, there is a reason.  That reason has been now advised by the UK based insurance company Norwich Union in a recent Press report where analysis of their claims show that South Africa is what we have know for years, the most dangerous place to live in and visit outside of a war zone.  It is also echoed in most of the western government Embassy advice web sites for those considering visiting South Africa.   Just think that on average, in a country that has the same population as Spain, there is a reported murder every 25 minutes.  Yes 25 minutes.  Just think of the uproar if that happened here, and that is only the reported ones.  Too many are policemen who it must be said now, have lost the battle against serious and violent crime due to gross under-funding and poor leadership from the African National Congress led government, whose Minister for Safety and Security recently said in Parliament (it was televised) when confronted with the ongoing terrible statistics, "Stop whingeing.  If you do not like it, leave the country!"

The situation has become grim under the "New South Africa" government where theft and corruption, matched with gross mismanagement at all levels is one of the causes of a situation where the rich are getting richer, and the poor are poorer, something that did not happen under Apartheid.  In fact, many commentators are no doing comparisons with the old regime's government performances and deciding that Apartheid was not so bad for the average SA citizen after all, with a reported 40% unemployment rate now and rape being so common that many do not even bother to report it anymore (more like one every 23 seconds), but just wait to see if they are infected with the HIV bug.  The problem with Apartheid was the silly laws such as interracial marriage being forbidden, but the overall concept was sound despite what many liberals outside of SA said at the time.   But that discussion is not the purpose of this item.

Foreign countries are also advising extreme caution when visiting SA, where you have a very good chance of getting your luggage returned at the airports with it having been opened and items of value stolen.  And the attitude of the staff when a complaint is made is reported to be terrible, but they are overwhelmed with the numbers of complaints but seem to be unable to stop the thefts anyway.

Now ordinary people within South Africa are rebelling by opening web-sites with SA Press reports showing just how extensive and gruesome the crime is, and has been for some 10 years now, in fact, just after the ANC government came to power, so the Apartheid government cannot be blamed, the usual cry there when the administration cannot administrate and things go wrong.

The following web-sites are a sample of what is happening, but please be warned, some of the pictures are horrific.  The authors of the web sites are trying to force the President Mbeki, he of the quiet diplomacy with Robert Mugabe "while Zimbabwe burns", to take effective action to stop the killing and robbing.  Click on each line to go to the web site:

The web site showing the condition in what was once one of the greatest cities in the world, Johannesburg, with buildings inhabited by squatters, rubbish strewn everywhere with rats running around, it makes me cry as we used to visit many of the places just 12 years ago when they were clean and safe.  Needless to say, the lie is propagated that Apartheid is to blame!

The Soccer World Cup is due to be held there in 2010 and really unless the South African government takes really drastic action to kill the serious crime, I would not even think about going.  Even as a player!


 Notes on Licences needed for towing vehicles.  9th Aug 2006.

The following information is adequately described in my book, but some readers seem to get confused about the actual way that the relationship between a tow vehicle e.g. a car, and a trailer works.  the following will help.  The figures have been calculated by the experts so that inexperienced drivers will not get into trouble with the wrong combination for their driving skills.  

 The driving licence details are fully explained in my book.

Category B Vehicles

 Unladen Mass Kg


 Trailer MAM

 Combination MAM

 Required Driving Licence







 Unladen mass of the towing vehicle > MAM trailer and MAM of combination < 3500 kg





B + E

 Unladen mass of the towing vehicle < MAM trailer; MAM trailer > 750 kg






 MAM trailer < 750 kg





B + E

 MAM trailer > 750 kg and MAM of combination > 3500 kg


MAM = Maximum Authorised Mass.  This is the maximum designed weight of the fully legally loaded trailer or combination of two vehicle and trailer. 

> = up to…        < = less than


1.                 In the first row, the unladen mass of the tow vehicle is 1.025 Kg (about the size of a Ford Fiesta), and the laden mass with passengers and any luggage is 1.450 Kg.  The trailer MAM is 850 Kg that is fully laden, it weighs 850 Kg.   The combination of the tow vehicle and te trailer is 2.300 Kg, so it is OK to use a standard “B” driving licence for this combination.  Note that it is the MAM, not the actual Kg where if the tow vehicle is lighter that 1.450, you can load more into the trailer.  The idea is to have a safe balanced combination on the road.  Note that the trailer must have a MAM of 850 Kg, not be an overloaded trailer of say 450 Kg MAM.

2.                 In the fourth row, the tow vehicle has a MAM of 1.875, possible a medium sized 4 x 4, and the trailer has a MAM of 2.850 Kg: let us say a loaded horse-trailer.    The total combination MAM is 3.700 Kg, so a driving licence classification of a “B + E” is required.


Brussels proposes Daylight Running Lights (DRL) for all vehicles.

Talks in a committee in the "unelected" Parliament in Brussels are proceeding with the suggestion that all vehicles be fitted with DRL.  This is where lights that can be easily seen in daylight are switched on whenever the vehicles is started and is running.  The idea started some decades  ago in Sweden and over a period of time, was hailed as reducing accidents in bad visibility.

Poor visibility is the key point.  The Scandinavian countries and places such as Canada where the law is applied as well, suffers for interminably long nights with daylight and dusk occurring during working hours including travelling to work, and in fact, in the North of these countries, it often is only light in winter for a very short time.   So why have the law in the EU?    One of the major problems here is the high accident rates caused by poor driving and in some cases, vehicle maintenance.  Of course, we also have mobile phone usage, drinking/drugging and driving, and even driving while tired but to me, this is still poor driving.  So the authorities quite rightly in their quest to save lives and eliminate serious injuries that cost the EU many millions of Euros each year, seek out every device and system to prevent them.

My opinion though is that while human beings drive vehicles, there will always be accidents, but I also believe that there should be stricter policing of drivers to prevent the stupid acts that cause accidents.  We have no usage of mobile phones now without  a hands-free kit in the vehicle, but every day we see drivers blatantly ignoring this law.  We all know people who drive while intoxicated and I am not talking about a couple of drinks, but having to drive slowly because they are unable to think any faster they are so drunk.



25 August 2006

A leading UK car magazine, Auto Express, recently carried out tests on the differences between the braking distances of all cars with tyres with a 3 mm depth of tread and the same cars with only 1,8 mm on a very wet test road. The results are alarming.  

I have always been very fussy about tyres since my young days of riding all year round on motorcycles especially in the days before the newer “stickier” and high hysteresis loss rubbers were available, this meaning that  the rubber has the ability to stick to the road far more because in layman’s terms, it absorbs much of its “bounce” when going over bumps; very important in the wet.  Rather like a non-bouncing rubber ball.   It was a great technological leap forward for motorcycling in those days.

Auto Express magazine took three cars, a Renault Clio 1, 4 litre, a Ford Focus 1, 8 litre and an Audi A4, 2 litre.  They tested the cars at a test track where the speeds and distances can be accurately measured, and the road could be sprayed uniformly with water to provide similar conditions as on an autovia or motorway.   The starting speed for each vehicle with an independent measuring device (not the car’s speedo) was  113 kph (70 mph) which in the UK is the maximum limit.  Here we are allowed to go at 120 kph or 75 mph, so the stopping distances are greater if you are crazy enough to drive at these speeds on a very wet road. 

The table below shows the results. 

Test Car, braking from 113 kph


Stopping Distance with 3 mm tread


Stopping Distance with 1, 8 mm tread


Difference in Stopping Distances


Speed of 1, 8 mm car when 3 mm car had stopped.                              (5)

 Renault Clio 1,4

 113 metres

 151 metres

 38 metres

 80 kph

 Ford Focus 1,8

 91 meters

 135 meters

 44 metres

 80 kph

 Toyota RAV4 1,8

 118 metres

 155 metres


 80 kph

 Audi A4 2.0

 97 meters

 127 meters


 65 kph


  • Column 2 shows the stopping distance with 3 mm tread tyres, accurately measured and prepared for the test.   It is interesting to note that the 4 x 4 Toyota RAV4 stops 27 metres further on than the Focus, which could be due to its higher centre of gravity as this vehicle is supplied with wide treads.  It could mean that the water cannot be dispersed quickly enough by the tyre treads and so should never be driven in similar conditions at speeds greater than say 80 - 90 kph.    One would think that the Renault being lower and lighter than the Focus and the Audi would stop well under 100 metres, but it does not.    The Focus and the Audi are shown as the safer cars in these conditions, but it also shows that all of them should not be driven more than say 90 - 100 kph in heavy rain.
  • Column 3 shows the same cars with the wheels changed to the same make and type of tyres with only 1, 8 mm of tread. 
  • Column 4 shows the difference in stopping distance between the two differently equipped but otherwise identical vehicles in each row, and as you can see the difference for the Ford Focus was a massive 44 metres more which is just over 140 feet.  This represents more or less 10 car lengths, the difference between stopping and having a nasty accident where usually the driver of the car at the rear is judged to be fault depending on the circumstances.   
  • Column 5 shows the speeds of the 1, 8 mm tyred vehicles as they "pass" the just stopped 3 mm cars.   The differences show the choice  between a nasty collision and safety depending on your tyre tread depth, although, of course, it the vehicle behind yours has 1, 8 mm tyres, it could after you have stopped with your good tyres, crash into your rear end at a speed as much as 80 kph if on the highway in similar conditions.  A frightening thought and an important thing to note after a road accident when looking at the other driver's vehicle with your camera ready.

The officially approved minimum depth of tread for motor vehicles within the EU, including Spain as sometimes they are different here, is 1, 6 mm, but these tests and discussion by those in Brussels may change that figure in the next couple of years. 

 Me?  I always change my tyres at about 2, 5 mm, well before the wear indicators built into every car tyre by the manufacturer show time for renewal.  See the photo. (to follow)  But I was crazy enough to ride motorcycles in all weathers (I just loved riding them) even over the Snake Pass in a snow-blizzard once, following the gritting lorry and passing cars abandoned at the side of the road one night many years ago and so I learnt the importance of having good treads on my tyres.   But I see advertisements here where old tyres are offered for sale by the smaller service shops for as little as €20 fitted.  Perhaps our old tyres are being sold also to impoverished car owners?

 The tests above prove the importance of having tyres on your car with at least 2, 5 mm of tread or more when driving on very wet roads so the treads can get rid of the water and keep the  rubber on the road.     With Autumn arriving very soon and hopefully lots of rain again to fill our dams, it is perhaps the best time of the year to put new tyres on your vehicle.



The Trafico web-site has a list of the authorised centres in Spain for this service.  It can be reached by (Click) It does not state though what the charges should be as some ex-pats tell me they have been charged as much as 50 for a simple medical.

 More information in my book, page 101



You know about the ones mentioned in my book.  Here is another that may be "exported" from the UK.  You return to your car in a quite car-park or area, get in and start the engine and as you look or turn to reverse, you see a piece of paper that has been stuck on your rear window.  So, leaving the engine running which means the car is unlocked, you get out to investigate.  The next thing is your personal belongings in the car, handbag if a woman, are grabbed and the thief drives off quickly with the accomplice behind the wheel of another car, (or perhaps yours) and in the confusion, you only work out the colour of the escaping car, and if a bit of an expert, the make and model, not the registration number which is dirty anyway.




Dear Sir/Madam,


 Please answer a question for me.  We read of "Caprice" having been banned from driving due to being well over the alcohol limit in the UK and then driving in Ibiza a few days later.


 Surely, if you are banned from driving by a Court, and it is against the Law certainly within the EU to have two current driving licences of the same classification, you are banned from driving anywhere as you have no current legal licence?


 Is the licence endorsed or, as in Spain, held by the authorities until the banning is finished?


 I will no doubt be asked this question next week on my radio spot here on "Motoring in Spain" and it would be nice to have the right answer.


 Thank you in advance for your help. 



Date: 09/02/06 10:31:45


Subject: RE: Driving abroad on "banned" driving licence?



Thank you for your email.

I can confirm that if a driver is disqualified in the UK the disqualification only applies to the UK.  The disqualification does not apply to any other country.  It will only apply to the country that imposed the disqualification.  


Mrs C Mogford  

So there you have it.  Crazy that a crime committed in one EU State is not enforceable in all of them.  I wonder if the insurance company in Ibiza knows of her conviction for a serious offence.  It usually means a big increase in premiums.




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