european summer holiday motoring tips

while many driving regulations are enforced across the eu, for instance, the use of a hand-held mobile phone while driving is prohibited in many countries, you may be surprised by the number of differences in motoring rules between the nation states.

In France, one of the most popular destinations for UK motorists, motoring regulation is particularly demanding. For instance, a first aid kit and fire extinguishers should be carried on board your vehicle, and no luggage should be place on rear seats. Germany also insists on the carrying of first aid kits.

It's also compulsory to travel with a warning triangle and a fluorescent high visibility vest in France. In the event of a breakdown, you must put on your high visibility jacket (ensure enough jackets for all your vehicle's occupants are on board) and place your warning triangle at least 30 metres behind your vehicle ensuring that it's clearly visible and on a carriageway. The driver and all passengers must be safely away from moving traffic. Many other EU countries also require all drivers, including visitors, to carry reflective jackets.

Drinking And Driving

In January 2013, the French government announced that the implementation of an £11 fine for drivers not carrying a breathalyser was postponed indefinitely. You are still required to carry a self-test breathalyser in France but there's no current legislation demanding a fine for non-compliance. One unused, certified breathalyser must be produced showing the French certification mark NF. The breathalyser produced has to be in date with single-use breathalysers normally have a validity of 12 months. With several EU countries adopting zero tolerance to any alcohol levels, penalties are severe so there's only one safe rule - if you drink, don't drive!

Police Radar Speed Detector Systems

The use or possession of devices to detect police radar systems is now illegal in most European countries. Following the introduction of legislation in France a few years ago, some countries now also prohibit the use of GPS based navigation systems which have maps indicating the location of fixed speed cameras meaning that you must deactivate the 'fixed speed camera' PoI (Point of Interest) function. Penalties can include heavy fines, driving bans, and even imprisonment. With many vehicles now being fitted with satellite navigations systems incorporating speed camera warning as standard it's best to contact your dealer or manufacturer to deactivate your system to comply with the law.

Headlight beam patterns should be adjusted to suit driving on the right so that the dipped beam doesn't dazzle oncoming drivers. Don't leave it to the last minute as it might well be necessary to have a dealer make an adjustment for you.

When driving abroad you must display a GB sign as failure to comply with regulation could result in the police issuing an on-the-spot fine. If your vehicle is fitted with number plates that include the GB euro symbol (Europlates) you won't have to display a conventional GB sticker within the EU. However, some countries outside the EU may require you to display a GB sticker whether or not you have euro-plates, so to be safe it's best to display one anyway.


You may be asked to produce your documents at any time so ensure that your paperwork is in order and readily available as you will avoid the risk of a police fine. Remember that it's your responsibility to have all the documentation needed with you to comply with regulations regarding immigration, customs, health and other relevant rules of the country or countries in which you are travelling. It's also worth noting that if you are travelling in a vehicle other than a car or motorcycle, or perhaps you are towing a boat, you may require additional documentation.

Here's a check list of important documents that you should take with you when motoring abroad.

? A valid full, not provisional, driving licence

? The driving licence paper counterpart if you have a photocard licence

? An International Driving Permit (when driving outside of the EU: for instance the USA)

? Vehicle registration document (V5c) - the original not a copy

? Your Motor insurance certificate

? Your Passport(s)

? Your travel insurance documents

? Certain countries require a visa. Check first!

Make sure that you notify your insurer that you will be driving your vehicle abroad and it's always a good idea to take out travel insurance for your trip to ensure that you are properly covered in the event of accidents and emergencies.

Finally, in an emergency whilst driving within the EU, 112 is the European emergency call number you can dial anywhere in the European Union in case of accident, assault or in any other distress situation.