An ATS Euromaster 2019 UK driver survey has revealed that many UK drivers are not aware of laws and regulations for driving abroad, and do not take the necessary steps to ensure that they are always adhering to European road laws when taking their vehicle abroad.
ATS Euromaster asked 2000 British drivers in its 2019 UK driver survey a series of questions to determine how much they knew about European regulations for driving abroad, as well as whether they had ever taken necessary precautions based on past experience. The survey also touched on the extent to which drivers carry out regular routine checks on their vehicle before driving it.
The ATS Euromaster survey revealed that 73% of British drivers do not use headlight beam deflectors when driving in Europe. 61% don’t ensure that their car has a GB sticker or registration plate, 60% don’t bring reflective jackets with them for their trip, 53% don’t bring a warning triangle with them to place at the side of the road should an accident or breakdown occur with their vehicle, and 47% don’t bring first aid kits – an essential requirement for many European countries.
Below are some other important regulations to remember and tips for driving abroad in Europe.
Familiarise yourself with European roads and signage
Every country is different in terms of its road hierarchy, with motorways, A roads and smaller B roads. However, there are some countries that do not have motorways at all, like Montenegro. It is important to familiarise yourself with the route you will be taking and the types of roads you will be driving on in Europe. Signs may look similar, but there may be differences in their design or meaning. Being familiar with signage will help you to be safer and feel more confident on the road.
Have the correct documents for your journey
Check that you have substantial travel insurance cover for your trip (you can check this with your current insurer). You should also have an international driving licence, especially if you are hiring a car abroad. If you do not have one, you may risk having to pay higher fees to hire the vehicle. Consider taking out specialist European car insurance for your trip, based on where you are travelling. Always carry an original certificate of motor insurance in your vehicle, as well as a Green Card (or an International Motor Insurance Card), as you will need this if you are travelling through countries that require one (such as Turkey and Albania). Some destinations are not covered by regular car insurers, so check before you travel.
Know the right of way
In almost every case, drivers on the main road have priority on roads in Europe. The exception to this is in certain locations in France, where priorité à droite still exists, where traffic joining a road at a junction has to go first. Some cities have tram systems, which have priority over cars. In the Netherlands for instance, both cyclists and trams have priority over cars on roundabouts. You should also be aware of when and where you cannot take your vehicle. For instance, in some Spanish and Italian old towns, you cannot your vehicle into the centre on specific days. You may also encounter low emissions zones, and will need to plan your journey around these.
Always drive on the right
Almost all countries in Europe drive on the right, so you will need to adapt, especially if you are driving a left-hand drive vehicle. Adjust your mirrors, because passing traffic will appear in your mirrors at different angles, and always check your blind spots carefully.
Check your lights
You should always use headlight deflectors if you are driving a left-hand drive vehicle in Europe. This is because the headlights on your vehicle, which are designed for driving on the left-hand side of the road, will dazzle other road users coming towards you. Headlight converters dip the beam on your headlights to ensure that they do not dazzle other drivers. This is a legal requirement in many European states, and you risk financial penalties if you do not comply with the rules. You should also make sure that your headlights are on at all times, even during the daytime, as this is also a legal requirement, especially in northern European countries.
The ATS Euromaster 2019 UK driver survey also revealed that high numbers of Brits do not properly maintain their vehicle or carry out routine checks to keep them and other road users safe, which is essential for everyday driving and especially important if you are travelling abroad. 67% of those asked didn’t check their tyre tread depth every month, 61% didn’t check their tyre pressures or oil levels (69% of women don’t, while 50% of men don’t). 61% of British drivers did however say that they would still have an annual MOT carried out on their vehicle, even if it wasn’t a legal requirement (64% of men said that they would, and 56% of women also said that they would). 31% of men also admitted to buying or considering the purchase of part worn tyres. 28% of women admitted that they would consider doing the same.