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Motoring Book Updates, September 2006

 DRIVING LESSONS IN ENGLISH.

I am asked occasionally where English-speaking people can obtain driving lessons in English in Spain.  I have no idea on the Costa Blanca, etc, but on the Costa del Sol, where we live, there are one or two schools that offer this facility.  I do know that here, one amigo, Javier Gomez, who spent 18 months in the UK and is pretty fluent in English and is a registered driving instructor, as you must be to legally give instruction, and he has told me that most of his English speaking students are Africans and Filipinos.

Remembering that the theory is taken first at the school and when passed, the practical is then taken in special vehicles, and if you have had previous experience driving in a country where the licence is not able to be exchanged for a Spanish one (see my book for details), then it usually only takes about two lessons spent driving around the test course before the "big day" of the driving examination.

I have found another school in Fuengirola, but please be advised I have not checked it out, so it is up to anyone who wants to learn there to be satisfied before any commitment is made.  It is the "Autoescuela Urbano", telephone 951 26 07 49.  It is situated in the road next to the road Avda. Clemente Diaz Ruiz, which is the road out of Fuengirola leading up to Mijas Costa.  They cover cars and motorcycles including the up to 49cc ciclomotors (Mopeds and scooters)

Advertised fees at this time are:

1.          Enrollment              €295.  This covers, I believe, a manual on driving in Spain in English.

2.          Deposit                  €50

3.          Written Exam         €77 (this covers 2 attempts if the first one is a "fail")

Documentation required at least 10 days before the written exam:

Copy of residencia or receipt for application having been submitted.

Copy of passport.

Copy of nota de empadronamiento which must have been made at least six months previously.

Four identical passport photos.

A medical certificate from either of two specified local clinics at a cost of €29.

Practical driving instruction in their vehicles (after passing the theory test).     €33 / hour with two hours minimum, or,.

Ten hours instruction in their vehicle €295.

So a total course with ten hours instruction in the vehicle works out at €696.(assuming the deposit is returned.)

Boy, I am glad I learnt to drive in the 1960s as that is quite a sum for a young person, but at least the possibility of a badly trained driver being let loose is reduced and this did happen when I was young.

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Costa Del Crime? 

 It is no wonder that the Costa Del Sol has the above nickname when you see people advertising for what could be considered supplying an illegal service. One such advert is for "MILEAGE CORRECTION".  "For incorrect mileage readings, all years, all models",  Tel:  (A mobile number).  The advertisement was inserted in the MOTORS pages in the SURinEnglish newspaper, page 80, fourth column in the Sept. 29th to October 5th 2006 edition, and repeated the next week.

 Now I could only interpret that as a service for "clocking", all winding back the odometers on vehicles to show a lower distance travelled than the correct one.  I cannot think of why anyone would want the reading to be wound forward.  Also, referring to "mileage" indicates that the advertiser is English, Irish or North American as anyone else here would refer to kilometres.

 As most of us should know, this is highly illegal and anyone selling a vehicles knowing that this has been done, commits a criminal offence.   And a motor dealer will find it difficult to say that they did not know as they are supposed to be experts in detecting this fraudulent activity.  I must check on this particular one.

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CORRUPTION IN SPAIN: THE CANCER THAT MUST BE EXCISED!

 This who live in Malaga, know about the ongoing corruption charges that have been brought against 22 Marbella town councillors, corruption that has bankrupted Marbella to the extent that 100 million Euros has had to be borrowed to pay staff salaries which cost 10 million a month.    One wonders at the magnitude of the scams and how did they think they were going to get away with it?.  The fact is that probably most will as cash must have been salted away by many of them ready for when they complete their jail sentences which to me, appear to be far too short.  We read of the local police chief having nearly 8-million Euros walled up in his home. Only the damp and new looking plaster showed where the hiding place was.  The cash to replace that stolen and keep Marbella solvent will have to come from somewhere, and my opinion is that perhaps Marbella is probably not now a good place to buy property now with the possible extra taxes needed in the years to come to settle the debts.

 Now the latest minor scam is where some officers from the Marbella policia local have been taking abandoned and seized cars and auctioning them off privately and pocketing the cash.  Normally these vehicles are auctioned at properly organised and publicised events.  Now it looks as if the already depleted police department is going to need more recruits.

 Corruption is a major problem here is Spain, reminiscent of South American or African states in its outrageous scale and apparent transparency.  It has been copied in many of the smaller tons and villages throughout Spain, especially where the new residents from outside Spain are settling as there is much "new" money coming in owned by ignorant but trusting newcomers in many cases.

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SO WHICH SIGN IS CORRECT?

If we think Spain has some confusing signs, this must take the biscuit.  Copied from the Daily Mail 12 Oct. 2006, the photo was taken on the A3 near New Malden in the UK.  The report says that the speed limit is 30 mph (50 kph) but the drivers have to going really slow to see the sign which is just left of the centre-middle.

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 Blue Badge Parking concessions for disabled drivers.

 The EU standard "Blue Badge", as it is known , is an officially issued sign that registered disabled drivers may obtain, usually from the local ayuntamiento (town council) where the applicant will be registered on the empadronamiento (list of local residents in council’s area).   The badge is accepted now in all 25 EU countries as long as it is issued by the country that you reside in.

 Where you may park as a Blue Badge holder:

 (Note the full listing for all EU countries is at http://www.aatrust.com/files/advice/blue_badge_abroad.pdf

 Spain 

On Roads and public parking areas, spaces are reserved for blue badge holders by a blue background sign with a white symbol. 

Parking on roads.  Do not park on roads unless local laws specifically allow it as indicated by signs. 

Parking charges and times vary as indicated. 

Do not drive or park in pedestrian zones unless a sign specifically allows it.

Some bays may have a specific vehicle registration number or an indication that it is a private bay.  Do not park there in case of "GRUA". 

In car parks, special bays allow parking only for Blue Badge holders, and the badge must be displayed usually on the dashboard or in an easy to see place.  If filled without the badge being displayed, call for the security or car park attendant to get it moved/clamped. 

Spanish Information, in English, is at:

 http://madrid.angloinfo.com/information/22/disabled.asp

 http://www.uk.tourspain.es/Disabled/information%20disabled.htm

Where to get a Blue Badge as a Spanish Resident.

A Blue Badge can be obtained in Spain (only by Spanish residents) are the local ayuntamientos.   Ask at the local foreigners/tourists information offices if not sure and you need help.  You should have your photo on it, so take two passport sized current photographs along when you apply.

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 Mistake on page 58 in the book. (22 Oct. 2006)

 A reader has pointed out to me that on page 58, I mention that you may only undertake on the "right"... when it should read , on the "left".    Thanks to Mike Gregory for pointing out the mistake: you are the only one.  Obviously a scholar as well as a gentleman!

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SEAT BELT USAGE IN SPAIN STILL ABYSMALLY BAD. (23 Oct. 2006)

Trafico have issue statistics based on road-side stops and observations, and the acceptance by drivers in Spain that a seat belt is an essential life saving device still has a long way to go.   Trafico has broken down the figures into men and women and passengers, including children’s seats s well as towns and cities etc plus the provinces, where, as one would think, the rural areas are behind the well-policed major cities..

Men are far worse than women for not wearing this vital safety device (ask me, I have worn a seat-belt since 1968 and have needed it once where it definitely saved my life (or from at least serious injury) when I had total brake failure on a mountain road in South Africa and the car turned over twice.  Too many people of both sexes still think that they do not need one in town.  Good people, most accidents happen in towns and usually within 8 km of home;  especially where a seat-belt is needed.

 Brief figures are:

Who generally uses  a seat-belt most?

 Sex

 Men

 Women

Men

78,2%

21,8%

Women

89,3%

10,7%

Drivers / passengers.

Which seat was no seat belt being worn?

Driver

Front seat

Back left

Back centre

Back right

Town/city/ pueblo

74,5%

76,3%

Open road

86,7%

Combined sexes, where, town & open road?

 Yes

No

City/towns/pueblos

75,4%

24,6%

Open roads

86,7%

13,3%

 

Wearing by type of vehicle?

 Yes

No

 Cars

86,9%

13,1%

4 x 4 s

83,5%

16,5%

 Vans

69,5%

30,5%

 Taxis

34%

66%

  

Autonomous Communities Statistics - where use is highest/lowest

Town / open road?

Community

Driver (%)

Front Seats (%)

Back seats (%)

in Town use

Galicia

70,4

69,63

29,19

C. de Madrid

84,2

85,09

38,85

Baleares

80

81,5

43,73

Castillo y Leon

75.45

73

53,55

Andalucia

71,05

73,18

47,8

Castilla la Mancha

70,5

70,23

36,09

Canarias

77

78.02

15,47

Asturias

73,8

76,09

44,8

C. Valencia

77,4

78

37,3

Cataluña

81.6

79,88

51,03

Murcia

69

71,7

34,45

Open road use

Galicia

78,4

78,58

29,35

C. de Madrid

93,4

92,7

47,33

Baleares

91,2

89,7

37,8

Castillo y Leon

84,45

82,34

63,63

Andalucia

91,45

92,29

51,56

Castilla la Mancha

85,47

83,77

43,01

Canarias

86,4

83,2

8,5

Asturias

92

92,5

51

C. Valencia

87,5

86,08

35,1

Cataluña

88,5

86,63

57,45

Murcia

73,05

74

37,80

NOTE.

 As in many cases the back seat passengers are children, some of the area statistics seem to indicate that these parents do not love their children.  Look at the Figure for the Canarias.  Only 8,5% of vehicles where there were passengers were seat belts worn.  And the most dangerous seat in the car without a seat belt is the front passenger's.

 There is a lot of educating to do and many points to be lost as well as cash to be handed over in fines.

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 UPDATENOVEMBER2006

  

  

  

  

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