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Advice on Driving in Europe

Documents

Sometimes you may be asked to produce your documents and to avoid a fine or possibly the confiscation of your vehicle you have to be sure that your documents are in order and available for inspection.

List of Documents you should take with you on holiday:

  • Valid driving licence, with counterpart if you have a photocard licence
  • International Driving Permit where necessary
  • Vehicle registration document
  • Motor insurance certificate
  • Passport

You might have to get a visa for some countries if you hold:

  • United Kingdom passport that wasn't issued in the UK
  • Foreign passport that was issued outside Europe
  • If you travel in a vehicle other than a motor car or motorcycle or take a boat, make sure you have any further documentation that might be required.

If you are driving a vehicle that is borrowed, hired or leased, you might need further advice.


You and Your Passgengers

Motor Breakdown Insurance
Please make sure that you have suitable insurance cover. Most breakdown insurance companies provide cover for European countries.

Car Crime
Don't leave handbags and other items in view even when you are in your car, and never leave anything valuable in an unattended car.

For advice on this subject or personal safety in specific countries, contact the Foreign Office Travel Advice Unit: www.fco.gov.uk.

Drinking and Driving
If you drink don't drive. The laws are strict and the penalties are severe in most european countries.

Motor Insurance
Get in touch with your insurer for advice before taking your vehicle overseas. Make sure that you are properly covered and have the documents to prove it.

Medical
You can usually get urgent medical treatment at a reduced cost, from the health-care schemes of countries with which the United Kingdom has health-care arrangements. You will find information in the Department of Health booklet 'Health Advice for Travellers', which is available from main post office's. Be sure to have appropriate travel insurance.

Mobilephones
The use of mobile phones while driving is prohibited in many countries now.

Travel and Pets
Visit this website www.defra.gov.uk for further information.

Glases
Take a spare pair of glases especially if you are the only driver.

Driving on the Right
It's very easy to forget to drive on the right especially after doing something normal, such as leaving a car park or petrol station.


Your Holiday and Your Car

Child Restraints
Never ever fit a rear-facing child restraint in a seat that has a front airbag. Seek out more information about child safety in cars.

GB Stickers
GB stickers are compulsory, and failure to comply usually results in an on-the-spot fine. Euro-plates - number plates that include the GB euro-symbol - have been legal since 2001 and make display of a conventional sticker unnecessary within the European Union. In countries outside the EU a sticker is required even if you have euro-plates, so it is always best to display one.

Reflective Waistcoat or Jacket
You need this when visiting Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria and Croatia. It is recommended that each vehicle carries at least two jackets or waistcoats in the passenger compartment - one for the driver and one for a passenger who may need to assist, for example, to change a blown tyre. Jackets or waistcoats must conform to EU Standard BS EN 471: 1994 Class 1 or 2.

Motor Headlights
If you driving to the Continent then you must adjust the headlamp beam pattern to suit driving on the right so that the dipped beam doesn't dazzle oncoming drivers. Never go without adjusting the headlamp pattern as it is a compulsory requirement in most countries. Headlamp converter kits are available but don't leave headlamp conversion to the last minute, as a dealer may need to make the adjustment.

Leaded Petrol
Leaded petrol is not now available in northern European countries and Lead Replacement Petrol ( LRP ) is getting more difficult to find. If LRP is not on sale, an anti-wear additive can be bought from the filling station.

Overloading
Try not to overload the car because this can incur fines and maybe invalidate your insurance.

Mirrors
If your motor is not equipped with a door or wing-mirror on the left-hand side it is recommend that you get one fitted to help you when you drive on the right.

Vehicle Servicing
Service your car before your holiday to reduce the chance of breakdowns when abroad.

Speed-Trap Detection Devices
The use or possession of these devices that detect police radar is illegal in most European countries. Penalties can include a hefty fine, driving ban, and even imprisonment!

Vehicle Tyres
Most countries require a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm over the central three-quarters of the tread and around the whole circumference. It is recommended that a minimum of 2mm is better but consider changing your tyres if the tread is down to 3mm before you go. Tyres wear out very quickly after they get down to 3mm.

Winter Wheel Chains
This is important for any winter motoring and compulsory in some countries even when using winter tyres.


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