Home SECTION I GENERAL RULES OF DRIVING BEHAVIOUR Article 1 Scope of the application

Article 1 Scope of the application

by Mark Nolan

(This article explains all the places where the Road Safety Act is applied; remember that any public or communal road will be subject to traffic law regardless of whether the land is public or private).

1. In general, the traffic laws, movement of motor vehicles and road safety matters contained both in this regulation and other relevant provisions elsewhere, will be applicable throughout the national territory. They will apply to owners and users of roads and public land suitable for traffic circulation, both urban and interurban, as well as those roads and land that are in common use and in the absence of other rules, to those of private roads and land that are used by an indeterminate community of users.


What are “Commonly used roads and land”?

Commonly used roads and land refers to places open to the free movement of vehicles. The roads on which these vehicles circulate will be subject to the Road Safety Law. Vehicles must have passed the ITV (technical inspection), have current insurance and drivers will be required to be in possession of a driving licence corresponding to the category of vehicle being driven. Many drivers and occupants make the mistake of thinking that when driving on rural roads which are neither asphalted nor signposted as such, road safety regulations do not apply and are often punished for not using a seatbelt or talking on a mobile phone.

When talking about private roads and land, what do you mean when you talk about being used by an indeterminate community of users?

An “indeterminate community of users”, means that not only the owner has access, but that other users can also have access.

A clear example would be a supermarket such as Carrefour; The owner of the car park is Carrefour, which in turn has it open for its customers, thus turning the car park into private land used by an indeterminate community of users. (Public use would be when anyone can have access). Another example would be the car park of a community of neighbours, where each neighbour has a garage. (Common use is when only owners have access.)

Traffic law still applies to drivers on private roads and land, such as car parks

Next we will put two examples so you can see the difference;

Carrefour, during business hours has its barriers open. A customer enters the parking area and as it is an undetermined community of people who similarly use the parking area, the rules that govern are the general ones. Therefore the way to proceed is the same as in a public area.

Carrefour closes the car park barriers at 22:00, from that moment, there is a strictly private use of it, so from that moment the owner of parking area, anyone authorised or security guards will not be governed by traffic law.

The Local Police may exercise their functions within a private parking area upon request or on their own initiative, although the regulation and management of traffic is the responsibility of the owner of the road, in this case Carrefour. Remember that if you drive without a seat belt or use your mobile phone in a supermarket parking lot, you could be reported.

This vehicle, parked sideways and over two spaces, violates traffic law

In this example, the vehicle is parked outside the marked bays,
creating an obstruction and therefore illegally parked

2. Specifically, such precepts will apply to:

A) Holders of public or private thoroughfares, included in paragraph c), and their users, whether as owners, drivers or occupants of vehicles or as pedestrians and whether circulating individually or as a group.

Likewise, they are applicable to everyone who is affected physically or legally and not included in the previous clause.

B) Animals that are loose or in flocks and vehicles of any kind that are either static or in movement and part of traffic on tracks included in the first paragraph of item.

(The owners of animals that move along common roads or paths will be subject to traffic law.)

C) Motorways, highways, conventional roads, rest and service zones, sites and areas affected by these roads, service roads and parking zones used by any kind of vehicle; those crossings, squares, streets or urban roads; public domain roads; tracks and public land suitable for vehicles; service roads built as auxiliary or complementary elements to the activities of their owners and those built for analogous purposes, provided they are open to public use and in general, to all common public or private routes.

The above mentioned precepts will not be applicable to roads, land, garages, parking lots or other premises of a similar nature, built inside private estates, requisitioned for public use and intended for the exclusive use of the owners and their dependents.

3. The occasional displacement of vehicles on land or areas of common use not suitable for vehicles and not destined for traffic use, will be subject to the rules contained in Title I and Chapter X of Title II of this regulation, insofar as they are applicable and as provided in the current regulation on drivers and vehicles, with respect to the prior administrative authorisation regime, provided for in Title IV of the articulated text of the Law on traffic, movement of motor vehicles and road safety, with the objective of ensuring the ability of drivers to drive the vehicles and their suitability to drive with the minimum possible risk.

What this section tells us is that it does not matter in which area you drive, or whether there are road or a path markings, as long as it is a zone of common use, you must comply with traffic regulations relating to both movement (Title I) such as requirements of lights Chapter X of title II), as well as be in possession of a driving licence corresponding to the vehicle in which you drive.

4. In the absence of other rules, owners of private roads or land not open to public use, located in residential areas, hotels, clubs and other recreational areas, may regulate, within their respective routes or enclosures, the exclusive movement of owners or their clients when they constitute an indeterminate community of persons, provided they do so in a manner that does not detract from the rules of this regulation, nor lead to confusion with them.

For example, in a community of neighbours in which all are British, a system corresponding to the English movement system (driving on the left) cannot be introduced as this contradicts the Spanish legislation which forces vehicles to drive on the right.

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