Driving Abroad Important Facts

  • Added:
    Mar 17, 2013
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Driving down 4th Avenue in Seattle
Driving down 4th Avenue in Seattle
Photo by jeffwilcox

It is incredibility important you do your homework on what’s expected on the roads at your chosen destination. It could mean making sure you stay on the right side of the law.

Your first thoughts will be which side of the road you’ll be driving on. Few countries drive on the same side as us so it’s likely this will be the biggest change you’ll face. This will require constant and full concentration. Are you covered insurance wise? A lot of insurance policies will cover you for a certain amount of days driving abroad but this may only cover you under third party, fire and theft.

What are you required to have in the car? In England, laws are surprisingly lax. We don’t really need to have anything in the car to be on the road legally. However, take France as an example. You must have in your car a breathalyser, florescent yellow vest and warning triangle. The vest must also be in the cabin area of your car and NOT in the boot.

Not following these rules will result in large on-the-spot fines leading from regular Police spot checks. These fines are of 90 euros per item. An expensive spot check if you haven’t any of these items. You are also not allowed any speed camera warning device in your vehicle, so if your sat nav has this sort of system – even if turned off – you must leave it behind.

Other countries don’t have the points system we do here but if too many rules are breached you may find yourself with not only a large fine but banned from driving on their roads.

You will probably be insured to drive abroad by your provider; however, your policy may stipulate that this cover falls from fully comprehensive to the limited cover needed for the country you're in - often just third party.
length of your trip
Some companies provide 90 days' cover abroad, while other may do 60 or 30.
Make sure you take pictures of damage as this will make it easier to try and claim on your insurance.

Breakdown cover
whatever level of breakdown cover you have and whoever it is with will be valid if something happened to your car outside the UK
Without adequate cover, getting a broken-down car home could cost you a lot of money, with some stories claiming it cost in to the £1,000s to get the stranded motor home.

Driving licence
The most important thing with your driving licence is ensuring you take both the card and paper parts of it as many of the authorities in Europe will want to see both parts if something were too happy.
you will also need to make sure that you have all your documents for your car, so don't forget your V5. You can get a translated version of this called the International Certificate for Motor Vehicles.

If you are off to Europe, then you will have to adjust the headlight beam pattern to suit right-hand driving so that you don't dazzle other drivers. You will need to check with your dealer or hand book to see if the lights can be altered.

If this can't be done, then you can buy converter kits to put on your lights in order to make sure they are the legal requirement.

Penalty points
There is still no standardised system across the EU for penalty points, so if you are caught speeding you won't get any on your UK driving licence.
However, you will still have to pay a fine. If caught by a camera, this will be sent to your UK address like any normal find. If you are pulled over by the police though, you will be forced to pay an on-the-spot fine, and in the most severe cases could see your car impounded and your right to drive in that country revoked for life.

Speed camera detector
If you have a radar device that locates speed cameras, then you might want to leave this at home when visiting France and Spain as they are illegal. Even if you have it turned off, but in your car, you could be hit with a €1,500 fine.

Safety kit

A number of countries across the EU stipulate that you must have certain pieces of safety kit in your car, in case you breakdown. These are basic things, and a lot of new cars come with these now anyway.

You will need to take a reflective jacket or hi-visibility vest as well as a reflective triangle - in Portugal you actually need two triangles. If you don't have these things in France then you can be hit with an on-the-spot fine of between €90 and €135.

Low Emission Zones

This works in a similar way to the London Congestion charge where the most polluting vehicles are regulated in some way - they are either banned or charged for entering the zones.

More than 180 cities and towns in 10 European or countries have the zones, or are set to launch them. If you are going on holiday in your own car then you will need to check you won't get caught by any of these.

GB stickers

Since March 2001, Euro-plates that include the GB euro-symbol have been legal across the EU and means that you don't have to bother with a GB sticker in the car.

If your car doesn't have the symbol on the licence plate though, you will have to display the sticker otherwise you could be hit by an on-the-spot fine.

Finally you will want to try and check the general road rules of the country you are going to. This includes the normal things like speed limits - as these may change before you go - and some of the basic signs.

Author's Profile

Jason Vines Vines Driving School Covering Driving Lessons Woking, Driving Lessons Guildford and Driving Lessons Dorking as well as all surrounding areas

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