Are You Prepared For Driving Abroad?
Published: 5 June 2012 By Peter Thompson Leave a Comment
With 10 million people planning to drive cars abroad this summer, a staggering third of drivers will knowingly take risks with the local driving laws and millions more will inadvertently break them through lack of knowledge and preparation.
The summer holiday season will see millions driving abroad and yet according to AXA, a leading UK car insurance provider, millions will either knowingly or inadvertently break driving laws whilst away.
The research showed that just over a quarter were less concerned about breaking speed limits abroad than at home, while 18% took drink driving less seriously than at home.
A further 7% said they were less likely to use seatbelts abroad and 4% were more likely to use a mobile while driving than they would do at home.
Around 10% of Brits who have driven their own cars abroad have had an accident while doing so.
All these statistics are perhaps not a surprise when you realise that less than half of those about to drive abroad make any effort to check on the driving rules and regulations that apply before setting off.
For example, despite it being a requirement, only 49% will use a GB sticker and less than a quarter will spend time learning what local road signs mean.
A third of drivers don’t even know whether their car insurance covers them for driving abroad. In fact two thirds of these make the potentially disastrous assumption that it does.
Driving laws vary by country. For example if you’re heading to France it is a legal requirement to carry a high visibility vest. In Spain it is illegal to use a mobile phone even when pulled over at the side of the road and if you run out of fuel on a German autobahn it is punishable by law.
Sarah Vaughan, motor director at AXA insurance said: “A combination of inexperience and disregard for the laws of driving abroad is a recipe for disaster for British drivers. It is shocking to see so many people willing to take risks that they wouldn’t take at home such as speeding and drink driving.
and added: “We would urge all drivers to prepare properly before heading away and to drive with more, not less, care than they would at home.”
With help from Axa, here are some tips for driving abroad
- Check what equipment you are required to carry in your car by law e.g. you may be required to have warning triangles, reflective jackets or petrol cans
- Get international breakdown cover
- Check local driving laws for the country you are travelling to – speed limits, regulations around child seats, seat-belt requirements, minimum driving age etc.
- Don’t drink and drive. Many countries have stricter drink drive rules than the UK
- Get your car serviced or at least checked over before you leave – both for safety and to make sure you are not breaking any laws on wheel tread etc.
- Adjust your lights for driving on the right hand side of the road. You may be stopped if you ‘dazzle’ other drivers.
- If you don’t have an EU plate with a GB sign on it you’ll need GB stickers for your car
- Check the paperwork you need to have with you e.g. driving license, insurance documentation, proof of vehicle ownership, international driving permit. Your car insurance provider or a motoring organisation can help you with this if need be
- Check what car insurance cover you have for driving abroad
- Plan your journey – check the map before you leave, take drinks and snacks and stop regularly to get enough rest.
MoneyHighStreet comments: “Whether driving or indeed flying abroad for a holiday, it is important to plan your trip – important as it is, it’s not just about making sure you have the right car insurance or travel insurance but it’s also about planning all aspects of your trip and sorting out such as your travel money and mobile phone roaming charges.
“You may find our checklist of things to tick off useful.
“If you are driving abroad do remember that European driving styles can be quite different. Many UK drivers claim to have experienced the highest levels of road rage in Italy for example and Spanish motorists may well scare you with the different style of overtaking.
“It’s all about planning and being prepared so that you can really enjoy your travels.”