Healthplan Spain


MOTORING: Can I Use My Mobile Phone When At A Red Light In Spain? Expat Tips

The General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) in Spain has imposed strict regulations against using smartphones while driving to reduce distractions for drivers and enhance road safety.

Despite these rules, many drivers still question whether holding a phone at a traffic light can lead to fines. In this article, we'll clarify the regulations and penalties associated with mobile phone use while driving in Spain, including using phones at red lights.

DGT's Efforts to Combat Mobile Phone Distractions

The DGT has launched numerous campaigns to help combat the use of mobile phones while driving. This issue ranks as one of the top distractions for drivers in Spain, contributing to approximately 30 percent of traffic accidents. To address this serious concern, the DGT has not only increased penalties and points associated with this offence but has also intensified its efforts to raise awareness among Spanish road users.

Penalties for Holding Your Phone at a Red Light

If caught holding your smartphone while stopped at a red light by either law enforcement or a video surveillance camera, the penalty is the same as using the phone while driving.

Article 18.2 of the General Traffic Regulations states that "The use of mobile telephone devices while driving is prohibited.”

As a consequence, you will be liable to pay a fine of 200 euros and will incur the loss of 6 points on your driving licence. Therefore, it is essential to understand the potential consequences of using your mobile phone when waiting at a traffic light, as the penalty remains the same regardless of the driving situation.

Using Hands-Free Devices

While the DGT does not endorse talking on the phone while driving, as it can result in not perceiving up to 40 percent of road signs, it is legally allowed to use hands-free devices.

Spanish law does not prohibit this practice, allowing drivers to answer calls and interact with their phones via Bluetooth or other hands-free mechanisms. However, it is crucial to bear in mind that even hands-free phone conversations can still be distracting and affect one's focus on the road.

GPS Use and Penalties

According to the DGT, using GPS devices while driving is strictly prohibited. This prohibition includes manipulating the GPS, searching for directions, or even briefly touching the screen. Violating this rule incurs the same penalties as using a mobile phone while driving. As of 2022, under the new Traffic Law, this offence results in the loss of 6 points on your driving licence and a fine of 200 euros.

To avoid distractions while driving, it is advisable to set your GPS and input directions when your vehicle is parked. Some GPS devices come equipped with hands-free functionalities, which are permitted for use while on the move, provided they do not divert your attention from the road.

Mobile phone use while driving remains a significant road safety concern in Spain. The DGT has established strict rules and penalties to discourage this behaviour and reduce distractions for drivers. It is crucial for all drivers to adhere to these rules, even when stopped at a red light, to ensure the safety for themselves and others on the road.

Additionally, while hands-free devices are legally permissible, they should be used judiciously to minimise distractions and enhance road safety.

One final point. These rules do not only apply to cars, but to bicycles, electric-scooters, vans, lorries and any other vehicle.