There are a lot of different rules abroad in Europe drivers need to abide by
Around 400,000 British motorists are expected to travel the Channel Tunnel in July and August to get away to Europe for a summer break. Many British drivers enjoy a summer road trip to Europe but it doesn’t come without complication. There are a number of different local road rules in each individual country you travel to which may differ from the UK putting you an increased risk of being penalised or fined. Worryingly, according to a recent survey conducted by UK pay-by-mile car insurance provider, By Miles, a staggering 62 per cent of UK drivers mistakenly believe they should drive on the left in France and Spain. In fact, motorists in both of these countries are legally required to drive on the right.
Not only is it road rules that drivers need to be aware of but there is also a list of kit that is required in certain European countries.
By law, motorists driving in France must carry a range of accessories in their car such a breathalyser, spare headlight bulbs and a high-visibility jacket.
Failure to carry these items can result in on-the-spot penalties. However, only a fifth of those surveyed realised they need a breathalyser (22 per cent) and just over a third (36 per cent) of drivers knew that they needed to pack a high-visibility jacket for the drive.
There are some obscure laws in popular destination hostpots too. For example, in Spain, drivers can be fined up to €200 for driving shirtless. However, 91 per cent of drivers are unaware of this rule.
Other laws include no driving in flip flops in Spain and not wearing headphones while behind the wheel in France.
James Blackham, co-founder of By Miles, said, “Holidaymakers planning on driving to Europe this summer must take the time to swot up on local driving laws or risk facing fines.
“Little-known rules can often catch drivers out. For example, in France you must carry a breathalyser with you at all times, and in Spain if caught driving without a top on you can be fined €200
The insurer also warned that motorists need to inform their insurer and also consult their mileage allowance limit to ensure that they don’t exceed it.
In Spain drivers can be fined up to €200 for driving shirtless
“However, every road-tripper can protect themselves by following a few simple steps before setting off.
“Don’t presume your insurer automatically gives you the same full cover you have at home when you’re driving in Europe. Give them a ring to make sure you have the same level of cover – some drop to third party cover only once outside the UK.
“While you’re on the phone, check your annual mileage cap too. While Europe doesn’t seem all that far away, an unusually long road trip means some risk clocking up too many miles on the journey and invalidating their insurance policies as a result.
“Holiday-goers worried about falling foul of this rule would benefit from updating the estimated annual mileage on their policy, or better yet, exploring policies that don’t make you declare your annual mileage upfront.”
Motorists should also check if their trip will exceed their mileage allowance
For those looking to drive abroad this summer here is a checklist of things you need to bring or laws to abide by to stay put of trouble:
1. Bring a breathalyser
Both France and Spain have a number of driving laws that will be unfamiliar to most Brits driving abroad. In France you must carry a breathalyser, warning triangle and high visibility jacket with you at all times – amongst other things! Before you set off, make sure to check you have all the compulsory items in your vehicle to avoid potential fines.
2. Keep your shirt on!
Only 9% of us are aware that in Spain drivers can be fined up to €200 for driving shirtless.
But with temperatures set to hit over 30 degrees holidaymakers need to be careful to avoid fines. Drivers must also make sure they don’t drive in flip-flops when in Spain, and avoid driving with headphones in their ears in France.
3. Check your car is covered abroad
Before heading off on you road trip abroad make sure you have a conversation about cover with your insurer. Not all will automatically cover you fully comp when driving in Europe – many may lower your cover level to third party only. When driving abroad you must always have your insurance documents to hand. With some insurers you will be available to access via your app, so just remember to download or print off in advance.
4. Monitor your mileage
Check your annual mileage cap. For those planning a long distance drive you can accidentally tip over your annual mileage cap your insurance could be invalidated. There are tech solutions you can look into if worried – like pay-per-mile insurance – that let you pay as you drive and track your mileage in real time to help you avoid any nasty shocks.
The drink driving laws in Spain and France are much stricter than in the UK, with the European countries enforcing a limit of 0.5mg (a small beer) verses our 0.8mg (a pint). Some black box insurers even have a ‘find my car’ feature to help you locate your vehicle should you have forgotten which street you parked it down, after the night before.