Driving In Europe? Be Prepared!
Are You Properly Equipped for Driving In Europe?
When driving in Europe, whether for business or pleasure, there are a few mandatory and recommended car accessories you will need. If you’re a seasoned traveller well used to foreign driving laws, you’ll probably be well aware of what is necessary but things change over time and it’s well worth checking up for any new regulations that may have been introduced. Ultimately, it’s the driver’s responsibility to ensure that they meet the legal requirements of the country they are driving through.
For someone new to driving abroad, the challenge of driving on the ‘wrong side of the road’ is enough without trying to remember which extra car accessories you need, not to mention all the different rules and regulations, but ignore them at your peril! In some countries on-the-spot fines for not having the right equipment or obeying the rules are not uncommon. In most European countries you will need to have with you a valid UK driving licence, both the photo and paper parts, and if you don’t have a photo licence you will need another form of photographic ID, such as your passport or even an International Driving Permit. You will also need to carry your motor insurance certificate and, if appropriate, car hire paperwork.
Among the plethora of car accessories needed, the most common are:
GB sticker (unless your car has Euro-plates – number plates that show a circle of 12 stars on a blue background)
Headlamp beam deflectors (stickers you put on your headlights so you don’t dazzle motorists coming the other way)
Warning triangle (2 in Spain)
Reflective jacket or vest – usually required to be kept ‘within reach’, not in the car boot.
In France, as of 1 July 2012, single-use breathalysers will be compulsory in all motor vehicles. Motorists and motorcyclists are advised to carry at least two breathalysers at all times and they must have the “NF” label and comply with French regulations. A fine of €11 will be charged to anyone not carrying the breathalyser kit, but police have been told to start fining only from November 1st. The single-use breathalyser kits cost between around £1 and £2 and will be available at ferry and tunnel terminals for crossings to France.
Sat Navs which warn of the presence of speed cameras or radars and in-car radar detectors are mostly illegal, whether in use or not. Using them, or in some countries, even just the possession of them can attract fines and/or confiscation of the device and the vehicle – you have been warned!! And did you know, if you’re driving in Spain, Switzerland or the Czech Republic and you usually wear glasses or contact lenses, you must carry a spare pair with you! It really is a bit of a mine field. I’ve put together a table to show some of the compulsory and recommended car accessories needed for driving in Europe – it’s just a brief overview – to make sure you’re fully prepared so you can relax and enjoy your holiday; visit the RAC Driving Abroad European motoring advisor site www.rac.co.uk/driving-abroad/ for a full comprehensive guide to the rules and regulations and general advice for every European country.