Hiring a rental car or driving your own car abroad can be cost-effective, convenient and relaxing. However, due to unfamiliar road conditions, it is likely that your risk of being in an accident will increase. You can maximise your safety and stay legal by preparing ahead of time and taking some key precautions.
Before your trip:
If you are driving to a ferry or the Eurotunnel, make sure that your car is in good working order before setting off, and carry out the key safety checks: fuel, lights, oil, water, electrics and tyres. Make sure to pack your driving licence, vehicle logbook/registration document (V5C), motor insurance & travel insurance documents, and an International Driving Permit (IDP) if required and keep these with you whilst driving. For many destinations, including all of the countries in the EU, an IDP will not be required. You can check if you will need an IDP here
In some countries, you are required by law to carry particular pieces of equipment in your car. For example, in France and Spain it is compulsory to carry at least one warning triangle, and a reflective/Hi Vis vest.. Other key preparations for your car include:
When you arrive:
- Headlamp beam deflectors/converters – if you are using your own car abroad on the right side of the road, your headlights could dazzle other drivers. To avoid this use headlamp converters.
- Insurance – in the EU, all UK insurance provides the minimum third-party cover required to drive in EU countries. Check with your insurer to ensure that you have adequate cover.
Driving abroad can be great fun, allowing you to explore the country. However, if you are involved in a collision it can be confusing especially if you don’t speak the language. By following a few simple tips you can help stay safe and iron out any potential problems:
- Take extra care when exiting petrol stations, it’s so easy to forget for a second and look right instead of left when pulling off the forecourt.
- Roundabouts in Europe tend to operate in an anti-clockwise direction, meaning they move in the opposite direction to what we are used to in the UK.
- Remember that, when turning left, you will be crossing oncoming traffic.
If you are hiring a car rather than using your own, you may require a check code in order to check your driving record. A check code, valid for 21 days, can be generated here
If the worst happens, 112 is the European emergency number – if you dial this number anywhere in Europe it will take you straight through to the emergency services.
The GOV.UK website has step-by-step guide to driving abroad here
The AA has a useful resources page
that details equipment requirements, local laws/rules and general advice for 40 countries.
Nick Lloyd, acting head of road safety
Posted: 8/19/2019 3:32:11 PM