Holiday Driving in Europe

Posted on: May 3rd, 2011 Posted by

If you are planning your annual holiday, deciding to take your own car or hire a vehicle has many advantages over relying on public transport. Buses and trains may be a cheaper option, but are notoriously busy and may not always run to schedule. However, driving in Europe has its differences to driving in the United Kingdom. The following tips will help you to stay safe (and legal!) when you are on the roads during your holidays.

Documents

Whenever you drive in Europe, you should ensure that you carry relevant documents : valid, full driving licence, your passport, motor insurance details and the original car registration document. If you are hiring a vehicle, you should ask the company to supply you with a Vehicle on Hire certificate. The police can request these documents at any time when you are on the road, and can fine you or remove your vehicle if you are missing any one of them.

Driving on the Right

It can take some time to get used to driving on the right, and many accidents occur each year when visitors to Europe forget which side of the road they are supposed to be on. This often happens when people first set out for the day or after a break, so be alert and remember to stay on the right.

Check on Local Laws

The AA offer a pdf guide to driving requirements in Europe. It is worth checking up on this before you leave and learning the speed limits, drink/driving and seatbelt regulations in the country you plan to visit. To discover more about driving in your chosen destination visit the AA motoring advice page

In many European countries, there are certain pieces of kit which should always be carried in your vehicle. A reflective vest, to be worn if anyone has to alight from the vehicle on the road-side, is one of the most common requirements – one for each  person travelling. Further requirements may include a spare set of glasses if you normally wear them to drive, and a warning triangle. Again, it is worth finding out specifics for the country that you are visiting to ensure that you don’t end up paying out hefty fines.

Hiring a Vehicle

Always ensure that you have full, appropriate insurance when you hire a vehicle. Where possible, inspect the vehicle with the hire company representative and take a dated photo of the vehicle. Ensure that you make a note of any scratches or bumps before you set off, so that you won’t be blamed and end up paying for them later. You should also take another photo when you drop the vehicle off.

Crime on the Road

Unfortunately,  there are people out there who prey on naïve tourists who are travelling in Europe. It pays to be wary of strange behaviour from other drivers and to remember that things may not always be as they seem. Many techniques have been employed by these criminals in order to steal people’s valuables – impersonating a police officer, indicating your vehicle is damaged or flagging passers-by down for assistance are some of the most common. Protect yourself by removing car hire stickers from your vehicle’s windows, as these draw attention to the fact you are a tourist. In the case that you are pulled over by the police, but feel unsure, call 112, the European emergency services to ascertain  their authenticity.

Other Useful Tips

It is sensible to always carry a mobile phone which is fully charged and ready to use in caseof emergency. Other bits and pieces which you might like to pack in your car include plenty of water and a first aid kit. If you are travelling during harsh winter weather conditions, blankets and extra clothing may also come in handy.