On The Right Side of The Law
After collecting your hire car at Faro airport there is a lot to learn and little time to learn in. Portuguese motorists drive on what is for most of the world the right side of the road.. the opposite side to UK. Unfortunately every year there are accidents when holiday makers lose concentration and find themselves in conflict with oncoming traffic.
Portuguese traffic police are very fond of making roadside checks. Before you leave the hire depot insist that the staff show you where the hazard warning triangle is kept. If you cannot immediately produce it you will be spot fined.
It is also essential that the car documents, your driving licence and passport are immediately to hand whenever you are driving. Just in case you do make a mistake when the Brigado de Transito are watching you should also have 20,000 esc. For foreigners fines are payed to the police at the roadside or the car is confiscated. Big Problem.
It’s only a few years since you could afford to count the fine for driving home drunk in with the cost of a good night out. Not today.
Traffic police now operate a zero tolerance policy towards drink driving, speeding and dangerous driving. Fines are severe and for high levels of alcohol or speed you are likely to end up in jail. Portuguese roads do have radar traps and roadside camaras.
The police also stop cars at random to check documents and drivers. They do not have to have a reason to breath test you other than the fact that you are driving
If your hire car decides to break down or get a puncture you should move it as far out of the way as possible and then put your hazard triangle 50m. up the road.
If you have to leave the car to find a telephone and the car is off the carriageway you might put the triangle in the back window to save it from being lost. Unlike the UK, stranded women motorists in Portugal generally do not consider themselves at risk.
Remember that Portuguese speed limits are in kilometres per hour. Do not rely on your sense of what is the right speed but keep an eye on the clock.
Most roads have a hardshoulder. It is for emergencies only though you would not sometimes believe it.