Driving Abroad by Richard Stern.
As that time of year is here not everyone knows the law and regulations for driving in Europe.
Documentation, always carry your driving licence, vehicle registration document (V5), and certificate of motor insurance. If your licence does not incorporate a photograph ensure you carry your passport to validate the licence. If the vehicle is not registered in your name, carry a letter from the registered owner giving you permission to drive.
Drinking and driving, Don’t do it. Over 0.05 per cent and you could face anything up to imprisonment.
Fines, On the spot fines are issued across Europe. Ensure an official receipt is issued by the officer collecting the fine.
First-aid kit is advised, compulsory in Germany and Austria.
Fuel, All grades of unleaded petrol and diesel are available. As in the UK, LPG is only available at some stations. Leaded no longer exists. It is allowed to carry petrol in a can. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted, although they probably won’t work at automatic pumps, which are often the only pumps in rural areas open out-of-hours, which also means lunch-time from noon to 3pm. It’s a good idea to let your card issuer know you will be travelling abroad. This ensures they don’t suspend your card if they spot it being used in unfamiliar places, which they sometimes do as an anti-fraud measure.
GB sticker, Compulsory for all UK registered vehicles, cars displaying Euro-plates (circle of 12 stars above the national identifier on blue background) no longer need a separate GB sticker when driving in European Union countries.
Headlamp converters are compulsory.
Lights, dipped headlights must be used in poor daytime visibility. Motorcycles over 125cc must use dipped headlights during the day at all times.
Minimum age for driving, provided you hold a full UK licence, is 18 for a car and a motorcycle over 125cc and 15 for a motorcycle under 125cc.
Motor insurance, third-party insurance is compulsory. A green card is not required but your insurer should be advised of your trip.
Replacement bulb set recommended.
Seat belts are compulsory for front and rear seat occupants, if fitted.
Snow chains are recommended to be carried everywhere in Austria during winter, and if you do not carry and fit them when conditions demand the police can prevent you continuing your journey.
Supermarkets: Most supermarkets are closed on Sunday.
Visibility Vests are compulsory in France from July 1st 2008, and in Austria, Belgium, Italy, Norway, Portugal and Spain (and likely to become compulsory throughout the EU). The rules vary from country to country concerning number of vests required and whether they should be carried in the car or boot. Common sense suggests that there should be a vest for every occupant, and that the vests should be carried in the car. Do this and you will not have a problem.
Warning triangle is compulsory in Europe.
Radar Detectors are illegally in France even not in use.
LEZ Cities more European Cities are now becoming Low Emission Zones.
English Speaking Call Centres both the AA and RAC have central English speaking call centres as often the roadside assistance telephones the operators do not speak English. You need to upgrade your standard UK policy to cover trips abroad.
What spares should I carry?
As Murphy’s law states, you are bound not to have the one thing you need when you breakdown on a long trip, but you can lower the odds by carrying the following recommendations (including above items). Obviously make sure your car is road-worthy as possible including good tyres, lights and wipers;
- Fan belt
- Spark plugs, distributor cap, rotor arm, plug leads, points and condensor (where fitted)
- Tools and torch
- Spare wheel, jack and wheel brace designed for your car (don’t forget locking wheel nut key too)
- Oil, Water, and brake fluid
- Water hoses (where possible) could save hours of heartache
- Duck tape
- Full can of petrol
- Sat Nav (or maps) and mobile phone with car charger