Portugal has developed a reputation for its unorthodox driving methods and poor road conditions, making tourists nervous about getting behind the wheel there. That is especially true if obtaining a billig hyrbil i Portugal (translation: cheap car hire in Portugal). No one wants damages or an accident while driving a rental car. This country boasts among the highest rates for accidents in Western Europe.
Still, it is a matter of being a cautious driver, paying attention to those around you, and using sharp reflexes. The suggestion is that Portugal can be a pleasant country in which to take a road trip under the right circumstances.
While those from countries like the US, Germany, or the UK might discern the driving as a bit disorganized and somewhat erratic, it is manageable. Let us look at some tips meant to guide you through some of the rules and regulations, so you will be a little more prepared for the journey.
Portugal Road Rules Meant to Keep Drivers (And Rental Cars) Safe
Driving on the roads in Portugal can seem a bit challenging, especially if you are not used to somewhat unorthodox methods like not using indicators and riding bumper to bumper. That can prove scary to someone in a hired car attempting to prevent damages or avoid an accident.
One way to prepare for the conditions is to research the rules of the road in case these give some indication of what you might be setting yourself up for. Some regulations drivers tend to take seriously, and a reason the country is probably recognized as among the top for accidents are as follows:
- Drivers generally avoid using indicators
Portuguese drivers are not fond of indicating unless they absolutely have to, and even then, they need to think about it. It is critical to be mindful as you drive by what’s happening around you and presume that you won’t receive a warning if someone intends to make a turn or switch lanes.
Someone could likely come to an abrupt stop because they intend to turn, and it would be your responsibility to ensure that you can stop behind them.
Sometimes, if dangerous behavior occurs, like a driver is overtaking someone and an accident appears inevitable, the driver will suddenly indicate their intention. But when coming on or going off roadways or in roundabouts, no one tries to show the path they will be taking.
- Tailgating is assumed
When driving on the roadways, there is no such thing as getting too close behind another driver. The Portuguese motorist has no trouble riding on the bumper of someone in front of them, regardless of whether there is the potential for a sudden stop and resultant accident.
For some reason, the drivers do not believe they are being in any way aggressive. They merely do not like the idea of space in between cars. You can prevent it by keeping only a little space between you and the vehicle in front of you but not enough for someone to break in front of you.
It will annoy locals to the point they will attempt to overtake and squeeze in, and then another driver will box you in behind. Slamming on the brakes is a way to get the point across, but it’s also the way to get a damaged car rental.
- Road Tripping through Portugal
Most people go to try to enjoy a nice leisurely road trip through the lovely country of Portugal at their own pace, attempting to enjoy the natural landscape and find their way through the various attractions.
Learn about this part of Portugal at Skyscanner. No one certainly wants cars racing around them.
Unfortunately, Portuguese drivers do not drive slowly. Even if you are exceeding the posted speed, some motorists don’t want to be behind other cars regardless of how fast the person in front is driving. When your intention is to enjoy your holiday in the countryside, let them pass by.
It’s unlikely you’ll notice police enforcing the posted speeds or any speed cameras documenting excessive speeders, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be one hidden away at some point.
Not everyone exceeds the limits. Some people abide by the rules with the suggestion that everyone does so to avoid accidents and penalties. Some required limits:
- 120 km / h: On motorways
- 90 km / h: Away from built-up locations
- 50 km / h: Within built-up locations
For anyone who has had their driver’s license for under a year, the recommendation is to keep the speed under 90 km / h (but the side note is that it is not often enforced.)
- Drinking and driving is a thing in Portugal
The laws for drinking and driving are stringent, but that is no indication that it is not an issue. The suggestion is that it can be a relatively frequent occurrence in the country’s rural areas.
You should not follow as the locals do since that will indeed cause an accident in your rental car and lead to issues with the law. The laws in the country stipulate you should have less than 50 mg per 100 ml of blood as the maximum.
Those who are in possession of a new license, or a learning permit or commercial drivers are permitted no more than 20 mg as the maximum, essentially indicating there should be no drinking in these circumstances. See here what other things you should not do when in Portugal.
- Steer clear of driving in the big cities
If you choose to take a road trip, try to avoid driving through the big cities, with the two suggested being Porto and Lisbon. The driving conditions are harsh since the streets are exceptionally steep and narrow, with the need to share the roadway with trams, buses, and other vehicles. Plus, if the traffic is moving at a slow pace, visitors will walk out in front of the traffic.
Parking is a challenge, especially for those who have larger autos with the need to not only parallel park but to do so on a steep hill.
- Rain and accidents go hand in hand
A lot of the year, many parts of the country see rain. Even though this is the case, Portugal does not seem to be equipped for the conditions, especially with sidewalks becoming slippery in the inclement weather. The country is virtually void of activities when the rain starts.
But more than anything, the roadways see many more accidents. It is curious whether the asphalt becomes challenging to maneuver or whether the motorists simply do not know how to handle the conditions.
In either situation, it is wise to try to keep a distance if the boisterous motorists on the roadway will let you and then drive slowly.
In any case, if you are a seasoned driver with a few years under your belt and use caution when on the roadway, there should be no reason you would have trouble in your hired car taking a road trip through the countryside.
Portugal has much for visitors to see and do aside from how they drive. Take your car hire and see the magnificent side of the country.