This article is probably aimed at those of you who have been driving for a while and have an adventurous streak. It could also be that you intend to take a holiday in Europe and want the freedom of a car. It doesn’t matter if you intend to take your own car, or hire one; rules and regulations for driving in Europe can differ in a huge way compared to those in the UK.
So, in the following few words we aim to give you some handy tips and advice on what you should consider if you’re about to use the roads abroad.
Getting to Know the Basics
The one thing that seems very obvious to point out, but it is easily forgotten is that many countries in Europe drive on the right and not the left, so this is the first thing you have to consider. You have to think about not just being able to handle your car correctly, but get used to everything being on the “other side”.
For example, it can take a bit of getting used to when you have to reach for the gear stick with your right hand instead of your left (let alone all the other controls you’re used to). You will also have to think about how you use your “mirror, signal, manoeuvre” as well. If you’re worried about doing this, there are driving instructors out there that can help, so it might be a good idea to give one a call.
Also bear in mind that whilst we’re used to MPH (miles per hour). In Europe everything is KM (kilometres) instead. So, if you see a sign that says 30 KM to the next town, it will be a lot closer than you’re used to.
The country you choose to drive in will have some basic warning signs that don’t look that much different to those we have in the UK, but again, it’s worth getting a handbook so you can familiarise yourself with those that might cause some confusion.
It’s now compulsory to have reflective jackets in your car along with a road assistance kit, and in some countries you have to make sure you have jackets for both the driver and passengers which should be on show. In Spain for instance, it’s not uncommon to be stopped by traffic police just so they can take a quick look inside to make sure you’ve adhered to this rule.
Drinking and driving goes without saying – don’t do it! However, if you intend to drive in France (even if you’re just passing through) you will have to make sure you’re carrying a personal breathalyser kit. In fact, it may surprise you to know that Spain, Italy, and France are very hot on drinking and driving. The police will think nothing of stopping you at random so they can make sure you’re not over the legal limit which incidentally, is much lower than the UK.
If you’re taking your own vehicle, make sure it’s had a proper service before you leave and if you intend to hire a car, take all the safety information you can lay your hands on. Driving abroad doesn’t have to take the fun out of your trip as long as you follow the rules.