‘Operación Salida’: What you should know about driving during Spain’s Easter getaway
Friday is when the Easter holidays in Spain officially begin, with millions taking the opportunity to leave home for the week for a short break.
Spaniards have dubbed the big exodus before the Easter and summer holidays Operación Salida.
The General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) has predicted that this year there will be around 16 million trips on Spanish roads from Friday March 31st until next Monday April 10th, which is a public holiday in the Balearic Islands, Catalonia, the Basque Country, Valencia, La Rioja and Navarra.
The DGT has warned that this holiday period is one of the most complicated of the year, as the volume of trips increases in a short space of time, with similar origins and destinations on the same days and times.
The grand getaway typically takes place in two phases. The first begins this Friday, March 31st at 3pm and ends at midnight on Sunday, April 2nd a period in which 4.3 million road journeys are expected.
The second phase is more important than the previous one due to the sheer volume of trips along the entire road network. This will begin on Wednesday, April 5th, and will end on Monday, April 10th.
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There’s nothing like being stuck in traffic on a hot highway for hours and hours to put a dampener on that holiday feeling, but here are some important tips on how to stay safe and sane on the roads during this time.
Here’s what you need to know to avoid the busiest travel times, find the best routes, and avoid difficulties as you head off on your Semana Santa break.
Find out the best times to travel
One of your best options is to avoid the busiest times and plan your route accordingly. According to the DGT the hours that will be the busiest on Friday will be between 3pm and 10pm. During these times there may be traffic problems and delays at the exits of large cities, as well as at the accesses to coastal tourist areas.
On Saturday morning, the intense traffic leaving the large urban centres will continue mostly between 9am and 2pm, while those who return on Sunday, April 2nd, may encounter delays in the evening between 6pm and 10pm coming into large cities.
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Avoid risky behaviour
The DGT insists on the importance of not adopting risky behaviour behind the wheel such as having distractions, speeding or being under the influence of alcohol, the latter causing one in three fatal accidents in Spain.
In fact, according to the 2021 report of the National Institute of Toxicology, almost half of the drivers killed in traffic accidents who underwent an autopsy had the presence of alcohol or other drugs in their blood. A percentage that rises to 75 percent in the specific case of alcohol.
The DGT also warns about the danger of walking on the road if your vehicle has broken down and the importance of adopting all the necessary precautions, especially on highways or dual carriageways where vehicles travel at high speed.
During the Easter getaway in 2022, the DGT reported a total of 25 fatal accidents, in which 27 people lost their lives.
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Stay up-to-date and plan
To guarantee safety and fluidity on the roads, the DGT has several measures in places such as fixed and mobile speed control radars, helicopters and drones, as well as cameras and undercover vans to control the use of mobile phones and seat belt use.
Follow the Twitter accounts @informacionDGT and @DGTes or the news bulletins on radio and television, as well as on the 011 telephone number to find out about the traffic situation and any incidents that may have occurred. There are also several apps you can use to help you plan your journey and monitor the roads.
It’s most likely already on your smartphone and can provide real-time info on traffic jams and offers faster alternative routes.
This is one of the best apps for Operación Salida, providing real-time traffic and alternative routes, it also allows users to share information on accidents, police checkpoints and other roadside dangers or annoyances. It also offers comparative prices at fuel stations along your route.
The official app from Spain’s traffic authority provides info on speed cameras and up-to-the-minute trouble spots along your route.
This app doesn’t just provide minute-by-minute updates on traffic congestion, it also allows you to plan your journey to beat the traffic, calculating the best time to leave. You can also search for info on service stations along the route and parking at your destination.
The Michelin app gives real-time traffic updates, and will advise you of a route to avoid tolls. It can also calculate how much fuel you need and the cheapest place to buy it on the way.
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Check your car before your journey
Spain’s car owners club, RACE, warns that the majority of car problems resulting in roadside assistance come from battery and tire problems.
Make sure that you check your tire tread (it should be a minimum of 1.6mm across the central ¾ line of the tire) ahead of the journey and that you have a functional spare tire in the vehicle.
Also check tire pressure at the start of your journey, and the fluid levels of oil, windscreen cleaning liquid and radiator coolant.