As drivers gear up for the 2015 summer getaway, 20 million Brits are planning on driving abroad. But new research has revealed that 12 million of them could drive on the wrong side of the road. The Europe-wide survey of more than 10,000 drivers found that 71 per cent don’t know the driving regulations of popular holiday destinations.
The report carried out in June by TomTom Consumer, questioned 2000 Brits. It found that 44 per cent of UK drivers are planning to travel abroad this year. However, Corinne Vigreux, co-founder of TomTom Consumer said: “There are a huge number of varying and complex road rules that exist across the globe. And, as our research reveals, it’s understandable that drivers aren’t always completely aware of the rules in every country they visit.”
Here are some basics that could make life easier and save you money if you’re planning to travel abroad this summer.
Summer getaway: Diesel drivers will get payback
Take a diesel car abroad and you’ll be filling up for a lot less than in the UK. At the time of writing, in Britain the average price at the black pump is 120p per litre (ppl). In France and Spain it’s 86ppl; Germany costs 88ppl; and Ireland 96ppl. Italy is the most expensive country British drivers are likely to visit after our own, obviously. It averages 109ppl.
When it comes to petrol, Italy is actually more expensive than the UK at 122ppl. Germany is next at 107ppl, followed by France and Ireland on 103. Spain is the cheapest at 96ppl. There’s nothing you can do about this before you go apart from waiting until you’ve crossed the channel before filling up.
Summer getaway: UK comprehensive insurance may not cover you abroad
Drivers need to check their insurance cover before going abroad. All UK comprehensive policies cover drivers abroad. However, it’s the minimum third party cover. This means if you have an accident, the driver you crash into will be able to claim off you but you’ll get nothing for your own car. The problem for drivers is that many insurers differ. Some UK comprehensive policies offer full cover for driving in Europe; some offer comprehensive cover if you alert them before you travel; some insurers will charge extra for comprehensive European cover; and some don’t offer it at all. Check with your insurer before you go to make sure you have the cover you need.
Summer getaway: You need travel insurance too
If you have an accident abroad and you’ve arranged fully comprehensive cover, repairing or replacing your car will be taken care off. However, if you’re injured in the crash you may not be covered unless you have travel insurance. Medical attention in European countries can be very expensive. Without travel insurance or a European Health Insurance Card, you may have to pay an expensive bill afterwards for any treatment you had.
Summer getaway: Crash with a foreign truck?
Unlike in the UK, on the Continent articulated lorries and their trailers frequently have different registration numbers to each other. If you have an accident with one, make sure you get the registration number from the cab unit rather than the trailer. Ashton West, chief executive of the Motor Insurers’ Bureau which helps drivers recoup money from crashes where the other driver is uninsured, warned: “Although the trailer will be covered by insurance, you won’t get anywhere with its insurer if you’re involved in a crash. It catches a lot of people out.”
Summer getaway: Strange laws to be aware of
Every European country has a different set of regulations. In order not to get caught out, view them in detail here. Some unusual ones to be aware of are:
Scandinavia Illegal to drive without headlights even in daylight
Cyprus Zero tolerance on all drinking at the wheel, including non-alcoholic drinks like water, as well as eating any food
Spain In some cities, cars must be parked on different sides of the road according to the day of the week
Portugal It’s illegal to carry bicycles on the back of a car
Denmark Check for sleeping children under your car every time you drive