Are you legal and safe when driving abroad?

Driving abroad

The first obvious difference between driving in the UK and driving abroad is the switch to driving a left-hand drive car and using the right-hand side of the road. You need to be especially careful when you first enter the country (and when you return to the UK) not to forget, sounds silly but it is one of the most common causes of crashes in the first few miles. Also take care when you have made a stop for a break and you are starting off again that you resume on the correct side of the road, very easy to forget and go back into autopilot.

Overtaking is going to be different.

If you are driving a right-hand drive car make sure you leave plenty of space to see if there is any oncoming traffic before trying to overtake. Remember, you need to move your car all the way into the other lane to see oncoming traffic. Normal seat belt laws remain the same, they are mandatory for front and rear occupants, so clunk and click before you start every trip

Speeding limits apply to all areas of Europe. Even on major parts of the famous Autobahn’s limits are still in place in areas that are urban, substandard, accident-prone, or under construction The speed limits for urban areas begin at the town or city sign and traffic offences may be subject to on the spot fines, always make sure you have a means of paying.

The drink driving laws may be stricter in Europe for example in France the limit is 0.5 mg/ml. So probably best not to drink at all when driving. A new law requiring all drivers to carry handheld breathalyzer came into force in France on the 1st July 2012. Fines for failing to adhere to the new law commence are now in place.

Children less than 10 years of age cannot sit in the front of the car

Unless it is in a baby seat facing backwards (airbag disabled) or unless there is a legitimate reason the back seat cannot be used e.g. no back seats or they are already occupied by other children under the age of 10.

The requirement in France is that you carry your car insurance documents, registration documents and driving license at all times when driving. This is a good rule of thumb for any of the European destinations. To ensure you meet the requirements for driving in Europe you will need.

  • A warning triangle
  • A high visibility vest
  • A set of headlight beam converters
  • A GB identification plate
  • A set of spare light bulbs (required for France and Spain)
  • A French breathalyzer kit
  • First Aid Kit

These are the minimum requirements for a RH drive car, but it is also recommended that you carry a fire extinguisher if you want to be ultra equipped for driving in Europe and to meet all the driving requirements.

Make sure you have a wonderful holiday, enjoy the ride and make sure you stay safe and within the law. If you’re taking your car with you, make sure your holiday isn’t cut short by any motoring issues. Compare garages in your local area by reviews, pricing and distance – booking a local garage online made easy!

Happy Holidays


Jonathan Hermans