Driving in Europe – Are You Prepared?

With the school holidays over and autumn approaching, a driving holiday in Europe is well worth considering.

Roads are less busy while hotels and restaurants are keen to welcome travellers as families return to the humdrum of their day-to-day lives.

The sun is also still shining, particularly in southern Europe, while the changing colours of autumn leaves make for some spectacular views as you pootle along whichever country road takes your fancy.

Moreover, taking your own car to Europe is a wonderful opportunity to pack as much as you like, ignore the rules and regulations of flying and simply hop on the ferry or the Eurostar and cross the Channel.

However, while we all know the rules are different overseas, trying to find out exactly what is legally required of you can prove difficult.

Nor is ignorance of the law an excuse should you get caught out by the local police, meaning you could end up facing a stiff fine for simply being unprepared.

And many Brits are still unprepared when they go overseas, as a recent survey of 1,000 drivers in Dover heading to Europe undertaken by Halfords has revealed.

As many as six out of 10 drivers heading to France weren’t aware that new laws introduced on July 1 require drivers to have not one but two NF approved breathalysers in their cars at all times.

Failure to do so if you’re a foreign driver will lead to an on-the-spot fine of €11 as of November 1, so be prepared.

French law also requires drivers to keep a warning triangle in their car boot and a fluorescent safety vest in the car itself and failure to do so could result in a €90 fine.

Other points of ignorance exposed by the survey included 20% of Brits not having headlamp converters, which will see a €100 fine levied across Europe, while 74% didn’t realise that if you wear glasses, Spanish laws require a spare pair need to be kept in the car.

A further 12% weren’t displaying a GB sticker which is mandatory across Europe if your number plate doesn’t have a GB Euro symbol on it.

Most worryingly 9% thought alcohol limits would be lower on the Continent when instead the drink drive limit is considerably lower in France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

So it really does pay to be prepared, as well as saving drivers a lot of hassle and potential serious trouble with foreign police.

Fortunately Halfords have a lot more advice on the matter here while the AA also offers a check list of things you need here.

And while you’re taking care of all of this, don’t forget to check with your insurers that you are covered overseas while making sure you have your passport, drivers licence, copies of insurance documents and vehicle registration documents to hand is a sensible idea.

Last but not least do think about getting some overseas breakdown cover which you’ll hopefully not need but can come in handy.

Happy motoring!