Six things to think about before driving abroad

Six things to think about before driving abroad

It's at this time of year where the people of Britain are treated to a few bank holidays and long weekends. If you decide that this may be the perfect opportunity to explore the continent then you really need to know the driving laws abroad. Here Matt Oliver from talks through all of the important points you need to know if you're driving through Europe. 

If you’re driving abroad this year, whether it’s for business or pleasure, it’s important to make sure you’re clued up on the rules and regulations of the country you’re in.

Indeed, you could be putting yourself at risk by not preparing properly before driving abroad. Speed limits, traffic signals and local laws on alcohol could all differ from one country to the next, so it’s important to get clued up.

Taking some time before you depart to make sure you have everything in order can really help, especially if you find yourself in a precarious position. To find out everything you need to know about driving on the Continent, check out’s interactive European driving map.

But before you wave ‘bon voyage’ to Britain, here are six things you should think about while you’re planning your road trip.

Car insurance

According to research by, 51% of people think they don’t need additional insurance to drive abroad1, but they’d be wrong. Having car insurance on the Continent is usually a legal requirement, as it is in Britain. So before packing up your boot with buckets and spades, it’s important to see whether you already have cover to drive abroad as standard.

If not, you may be able to increase the cover your existing policy already provides, or you might have to shop around for a product that’s more suitable. Some insurers will require you to let them know before you take your car overseas too.
It’s also worth noting some policies which are comprehensive at home may only offer third party cover in other countries, so always check because it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Breakdown cover

This may be included in your insurance but again, it’s best not to assume. Three quarters of those driving abroad fail to arrange breakdown cover before motoring off and the last thing you need is to be stranded in the middle of nowhere with only a book of ‘helpful’ phrases.

So check the terms and conditions of your policy carefully to see whether you need additional breakdown cover. You’ll be thankful for it if your car throws a wobbly.

Safety equipment

As well as being genuinely useful should you have a crash or a breakdown, carrying safety equipment in your car is also necessary in certain countries.

Take France for example. You’ll need to stock up on reflective jackets, a warning triangle and a breathalyser and keep them in your car at all times. Failure to do so could result in fines cutting into your cheese and wine money.

Important documents

Keeping the right paperwork to hand in your vehicle could really help get you out of a tight spot should you get stopped.
Always make sure you have a valid driving licence, proof of insurance, passport and your proof of ownership of your vehicle to help things go hitch-free.

Rules of the road

A confused one in 10 still believe that driving laws are the same in every country, but failure to adhere to local regulations could result in an accident or – yes, you guessed it – fines. Driving regulations could include when to use your lights and where tooting your horn is prohibited.

Local laws will let you know the drink driving limit, so if you’re debating having a swift half before getting back on the road, you may want to think again. The drink driving limit differs from the UK in a number of European countries – for example in France and Germany the maximum legal level of alcohol in the blood is 0.05%.

Knowing the limits

The last thing you want is to be slapped with a fine for driving over the speed limit, which makes it even more important to check how fast you should be travelling.

If you think that you’ll be able to rocket along the autobahn in Germany without a care in the world, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Parts may have a speed limit of 130km/h (81mph) due to the frequency of accidents and possible congestion. 

1- In March 2015, Bilendi conducted an online survey among 1,820 randomly selected British adults on behalf of

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Monday, 25 May 2020

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