German drivers, for example, automatically use the Reissverschluss (or zipper) system when two streams of traffic merge. This involves waiting until the last minute, then cars entering the single flow alternately, like the teeth of a zip. It seems odd to drivers from other countries who take their chance when they can, but it works perfectly and is now part of German traffic law.
Other examples of road etiquette are dictated by the traffic conditions. The “Dutch reach” is a technique developed in the Netherlands, where 36% of road users are cyclists, and simply encourages car users (especially passengers) to open their door with the hand that’s furthest away from the door. This means they turn slightly and are far more aware of approaching vehicles. The result? A dramatic decrease in cyclists being knocked flying by car doors.
On Lanzarote, you’ll also come across examples of practices that may come as a surprise to you. They include cars flashing as you approach in daytime (they’re either warning you of trouble ahead – an accident or police checkpoint – or you’ve left your long beams on); slower cars drifting right into the hard shoulder to encourage you to overtake; or even cars pausing to have a quick chat with a friend in a town street.
Roundabouts are an endless source of controversy on this island, as drivers from other countries or even elsewhere in Spain watch locals plodding around the outside lane to turn left or even do a 180 degree turn. Still, it’s probably best not to get too worked up about it and just remember that the driver in the outside (right) lane always has priority and if you’re driving defensively and cautiously, that’s where you’ll stay.
One thing you’ll rarely encounter on Lanzarote, or elsewhere in Spain, is genuine, aggressive road rage. Sure, you may hear angry blasts on the horn or the odd insult, but it’s all over in a flash. This is not a country where you’re likely to be aggressively tailgated by an irate driver flashing his lights (which doesn’t mean you won’t be tailgated) or run off the road and murdered with a Krooklok.
But perhaps that’s not so much to do with character as it is to do with driving conditions, because – let’s face it – when compared to much of the rest of the world, driving on Lanzarote is an absolute pleasure. Congestion is low, roads are generally excellent, most drivers are patient and considerate and you’re in one of the most beautiful places in Europe.