Tootle's Top Tips: Staying Safe, and Legal, While Driving Abroad

6d ago


The holiday season is nearly upon us which means that drivers across the country are polishing their motors, digging out their passports and getting ready for that long-awaited road trip abroad!

But there is some serious stuff to consider to ensure you stay safe and stay legal. Specifically some pretty strict and some pretty obscure laws that you need to know about.

Whether you are taking your own wheels or renting a car once you get there, here is our guide to avoiding some hefty fines.

Checklist to tick off before you go:

It may seem obvious but make sure you have the following items: passport, driving licence, travel insurance documents (check it’s valid in the country you’re heading to), your V5C log book (if you’re taking your own car) and a DVLA licence check code (if you’re hiring a car)

If you’re driving outside the EU, you may need a Visa and an International Driving Permit

Avoid getting fined

Don’t assume that the rules are the same in each country as they most definitely are not so don’t get caught out.

Here are some examples of the kind of fines that will strip you of your beer money!

In many EU countries you will be charged to use the road so you will need a vignette or paper sticker to display and these apply largely to the ‘national network’ of motorways and some dual carriageways. You will face a hefty fine for not having one.

Some European countries expect you to display an emissions sticker or badge on your windscreen and will fine you anything from €60-170 for driving in a LEZ (low emission zone) without one – ouch.

You can also be fined for not having headlight beam deflectors which redirect the beams towards the right-hand side of the road to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers.

Get yourself a GB sticker because unless the number plates on your car have a Euro symbol and the GB national identifier on, then it's compulsory to display one and guess what, you could be fined if you don’t.

What do I need to carry to avoid breaking the law?

You could be parting with up to €1,500 for not carrying the right kit so make sure you do your research as you might be surprised to see what you need to stay legal.

While most countries legally require you to carry a reflective jacket and a warning triangle, take note of these examples from around Europe:

France - you need to carry a breathalyser

Italy - snow chains or winter tyres

Portugal - photo ID

Spain - if you wear glasses, you have to carry a second pair at all times! Yes really…

Portugal – no bicycles or any other two-wheeled vehicles on the back of a car.

And some of our favourites:

Germany - Motorists can be fined up to €500 for using abusive language and making derogatory signs, so keep it clean!

Bulgaria – No dirty cars. You must wash your car on entering the country. Russia, Romania and Belarus have similar rules.

Denmark - You must check under your car for sleeping children every time you get in it!

Macedonia - Your front seat passenger must also be sober.

Oh yes, What about Brexit?

What about what? Driving in Europe after Brexit is still an unknown quantity but as far as we know, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, you might need an IDP to drive in the EU and European Economic Area (EEA).

So do your research, stay safe, stay legal and bon voyage!

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