Driving abroad 101

Driving abroad this summer? Do the planning before you go!

It’s that time of year when everyone’s thoughts are turning to summer holidays. Not long now and you could be sipping a nice drink as the sun goes down, or exploring breathtaking sights and historic cities…

Chances are you’ll either take your own car or hire one for that extra bit of holiday fun. But don’t leave the planning until the last minute. Our handy guide to driving abroad will help you make the most of the summer of 2018…

The really important documents…

These days everyone organises their lives on their smartphone, from banking to booking a flight and ordering a meal. But there are still some crucial bits of paper you need to take with you if you’re driving abroad this summer:

  • GB driving licence (can be used in all EU countries)
  • Passport
  • Travel insurance information
  • Motor insurance documents (if you’re taking your own car)
  • A visa and/or International Driving Permit (depending on the country you’re travelling to)
  • A free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is handy to have – it can give you free or reduced-cost emergency care

Driving through France? Here’s what you need…

If you’re taking your own car to the continent, you’ll more than likely be driving through France. As well as a GB sticker for the back of your vehicle, here are some other important things to take with you to France:

  • A high-vis vest (one per passenger) must be carried in the passenger compartment of your car in case of breakdown
  • A warning triangle is also compulsory, as is a spare bulb kit
  • Anyone driving through major French cities needs a Crit’Air clean air sticker (part of a crackdown on air pollution)

A bit of advice about driving on the right…

If this is going to be your first time driving on the right-hand side of the road, it’s probably best to have a little practice in a quiet spot before you hit the traffic hotspots.

So when you arrive overseas, try and find a sleepy suburb or a little-used country lane to get your head around driving on “the wrong side” of the road. After all, practice makes perfect.

And do remember to adjust your headlamps for driving on the right-hand side of the road. It’s a legal requirement not to dazzle oncoming drivers. So be kind to them.

Different countries, different customs

Finally, don’t expect everything to be the same abroad as it is in the UK when it comes to driving rules and regulations.

For example, drink-driving limits vary greatly across Europe, from 0.0 grams per litre in Hungary and the Czech Republic to 0.5 in France and Germany and 0.8 in England and Wales. You can check the full list here.

And penalties for mobile phone use behind the wheel are also very different depending on which country you’re driving in, as our recent report explains.

The gov.uk website has some more handy information if you’re planning to drive abroad this summer so make sure you check it out before you head off.

Enjoy your well-earned holiday – but do plan ahead, and if you haven’t got a sat-nav, then now’s the time to invest in one. You don’t want arguments over who read the map wrong to spoil your road trip!

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