Driving Abroad This Summer? Avoid Breaking These European Driving Laws
If you’re planning a trip abroad with your car this summer, driving on the other side of the road might not be the hardest task you’ll come up against. You’ll also need to ensure that you’re not breaking any of the driving laws that other countries have in place.
Here are the main ones to look out for.
Speed Limits in Kilometres
Some European countries display their speed limits in kilometres as opposed to miles. Keep an eye on your speed limit so you’re not driving too slowly. This includes the Republic of Ireland.
In a bid to reduce air pollution and traffic in the city centre, Paris does not allow cars made before January 1997 to drive through the city between 8am and 8pm. You could face a fine of 35 Euros if you do.
There’s also a pollution charge on weekends in Milan; you’ll need an ‘eco pass’ before driving through the city between 7.30am and 7.30pm.
Driving in Particular Zones in Towns
In countries such as Italy, you may find that as a tourist you cannot drive through certain zones.
If you’re driving in mainland Europe, you’ll also need to get a ‘GB’ sticker for your car. This sticker will need to be displayed on the rear of your car in case for any reason you’re towed.
All vehicles need this when driving through different countries so the police can identify foreign cars when necessary.
You could be issued with an on-the-spot fine if found without one.
Headlamp converters are something that you’ll need when driving in any European country. Adapting your headlights is a legal requirement, as all vehicles designed to drive on the left-hand side of the road will dazzle drivers when driven on the right.
Failure to comply means you will be fined if caught; it could also invalidate your insurance as your car would be deemed unroadworthy in the eyes of European driving laws.
Pack a Breathalyser
Since 2012, it’s been compulsory for all drivers to carry a self-test breathalyser while travelling in France.
If you’re driving in Italy, France, Spain or Switzerland, winter tyres may be compulsory in certain seasons, so check before you travel.
In Portugal, winter tyres are not to be used, but snow tyres are fine to use when necessary.
Avoid Using Your Horn
One country where this applies is the Republic of Ireland, where you can’t use your horn between the hours of 11.30pm and 7am.
Keep a Spare Pair of Glasses
If you need prescription glasses for driving, you’ll need to keep a spare pair in the car whilst in France and Spain, in case your original pair get broken.
Lights on in Sweden and Norway
Daytime hours in winter are massively reduced so you have to keep your lights on whilst driving at any time of day.
Check Your Insurance before You Travel
Your car insurance may only be valid for travelling within the UK, so ahead of your trip, ensure that your vehicle is covered to be driven abroad.
Wherever you travel you must carry the following:
- Your valid full driving licence
- A copy of your DVLA driver record and licence check code, if needed
- An international driving permit, where necessary
- Your original vehicle’s registration document (V5c)
- Your motor insurance certification (you may also need to inform your insurer of when you’re going and amend your policy)
- Your passport
- Your travel documents
It’s important to note that you may also need a visa when travelling to certain countries.
Although optional, you may want to consider getting travel insurance. This will usually cover you for medical expenses, lost or stolen property and ending your trip early due to illness or a family emergency.
Finally, drive carefully and mindfully wherever you are, even if you’ve been to the country before. The locals may drive differently to how you’re used to, and driving on the opposite side of the road can take some adjusting to.