Whether it’s a European road trip or a business meeting abroad, if you’re considering driving on the continent, you’ll need to consider a few things quite apart from the fact that it’s the ‘wrong’ side of the road! Here are some vital tips for British drivers to consider before going abroad for that trip to the EU.
First and most obvious things are sometimes easy to overlook. Make sure you bring a copy of all documents and make some backups to leave with family or friends, or take some photos to store in the cloud.
UK drivers licence
If you a full UK licence, you don’t require an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) to drive in the EU, as long as you’ve got the pink photocard. Here you can find the guidlines of the Non-member countries.
Insure your car for the trip to Europe as well as yourselves. Don’t forget the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card).
Vehicle registration document
Also known as a V5. Proof that you own the vehicle or have the right to drive it is essential.
The AA and RAC offer European breakdown cover which would no doubt save you a lot of hassle, especially if you don’t speak the local language fluently.
Before you go
Check the oil, tyre tread and PSI, water and coolant levels and don’t forget your spare tyre!
Driving in Europe advice
See the AA’s European driver advice page. Latest things to watch out for when travelling in Europe such as fuel scarcity in France and other vital news.
Different country, different laws
Check the local road laws so you won’t get caught out. Quite apart from the difficulty of driving a car on the opposite side of the road, there are differing signs, speed limits and local quirks to deal with.
Carefully research the route…
…and don’t get caught out by sat nav failures or unexpected toll roads. Some countries require a tax sticker for highways.
In many countries, it’s illegal not to have a warning triangle or a reflective coat or vest. In France, it’s compulsory to have a breathalyser! Disposable breathalysers are cheap and easy to order online.
You must also have a GB sticker or number plate designation on your car. Failure to do so can lead to a spot fine.
Lights on – and converted
In some countries, it’s compulsory to have lights on low beam in the daytime. Also, you must change the light beam direction with a set of headlight converter stickers so that you don’t dazzle oncoming traffic.
Calling for help
If you’re in trouble, you should remember that the emergency number in the EU is 112. This will get you to the fire brigade, police and ambulance services on a free call.
The idea of driving abroad can be daunting but with full preparation, the only thing you will need to really worry about is being on the correct side of the road and to help with that, you can try to find simulator games to download. Some of them even have realistic representations of major cities that you might find handy.