Driving abroad and being able to stop anywhere you like seems exciting and can save you money and hassle at the time of booking. However, get a few things wrong and you could find yourself paying off some hefty fines. You should always check you are taking the correct documents, have the correct insurances and carry all the equipment required of you in the country you are driving through.
Preparing Documents & Insurance
Luckily, driving through countries in the EU and European Economic Area (EEA) doesn’t require any other driving licence – you just have to make sure you have your British one with you at all times. Making sure your driving licence isn’t about to expire may seem like an obvious task, but some overlook this, avoid being held up by renewing before you go away. Whether you’re getting a ferry across the channel or taking the euro tunnel, you will definitely need your passport as you transition through passport security. If you’re taking your own car, you’ll need to take the V5C document and the certificate of motor insurance.
Your UK car insurance policy will automatically give you third-party cover when driving in EU OR EEA countries. This means your insurer will pay out if you damage another car, but not your own. If you need to upgrade, you can always call your insurer and upgrade for the period you are away. If you have UK breakdown cover, you can check if you will also be covered abroad, just like insurance policies, you can pay to upgrade breakdown cover also.
Getting the Right Equipment for the Road
Here in the UK, we have no legal requirements for carrying any safety equipment with us in cars. In many European countries they have compulsory items that must always be carried, usually dependent on the time of year, including:
- Warning triangle
- Reflective jacket
- Snow chains (winter months)
It may be unlikely that you would be caught without these items, but in the off chance that you are, it would be a fine of up to €1,500.
It’s also compulsory to display a GB sticker on your vehicle, unless the number plates on your car have the GB national identifier on them. You’ll also need to make sure that you purchase headlight converters. Cars that are designed to drive on the left-hand side will dazzle oncoming drivers when the car is driven on the opposite side. If you don’t buy the stickers, you could be handed a large fine and your insurance may even become invalid.
Several cities across Europe are trying all they can to curb pollution. This includes reducing the number of high emissions vehicles going into cities and other built-up areas. Depending on where you are driving, you may need to purchase an emissions sticker to show that you have a low emission car and are allowed to drive through the city. The stickers only cost a few pounds, but without one you could be fined €100.
Taking to the Road
Driving on the right-hand side is the first thing to remember when you emerge from the ferry or Euro tunnel. It takes some time to get used to, driving on motorways can be easier than on lower classed roads as you are following the traffic, which keeps you right. When you start to travel on quieter roads, make sure you have another alert passenger in the car to give you a heads-up if you start drifting.
Ensuring you have enough change in your car to pay any tolls your route takes you through can be a huge benefit. Many tolls take a variety of payment methods, but knowing you have some change there can reduce stress and faffing to find cash or card to pay.
Driving on autoroutes or autobahns can be a scary thought. Many classes of vehicles have no legal restriction on the speed they are travelling. In reality, it keeps everything flowing nicely and can be an extremely efficient way to travel.
Lastly, don’t forget to make sure your car is up to date with maintenance checks. Ensuring your car has received, if required, both a service and MOT can keep you out of a sticky situation.
Book your check-up before you go here