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Driving abroad

Driving Abroad

If you're planning a holiday or business trip outside of the UK, there's a good chance you're also planning on driving a car while you're away. It's not good to just assume that their way of doing things is basically the same as ours, there are important differences.

Here are a few handy hints that will point you in the right direction and help you have a great business trip or holiday.

First, make sure you know the rules of the road in the country that you are in and obey them. Many rules and traffic regulations will be the same as in the UK, but some countries do have particular rules and regulations. They are often enforced with greater firmness and being a tourist may not get you off the hook. They are varied and country specific even in the European Union.

Top Tip: For most European countries it is a legal requirement to carry a red warning triangle, you may also be required to carry a hi-vis vest and in some countries a breathalyser.

A good place to start is to make sure that you understand the meaning of all road signs and obey them. Most of them will be familiar to you and the meaning of those that are not should be fairly obvious. Remember the general rule: triangles warn, circles prohibit and rectangles inform.

Keeping the Paperwork Up-to-Date

Taking the correct documentation when driving abroad is a must and can save all kinds of headaches should something go wrong. The general message across our European countries is to always carry your driving licence.

If it's an old-style licence without a photograph then you'll also need your passport for verification. But, remember that if you have the new credit card style photo-licence then you'll probably need to have the paper element too. If you're driving your own car, you'll also need the V5 registration document and your insurance certificate. And in the USA, you'll probably need an International Driving Permit as it's required by some states and car rental agencies.

You must tell your insurance company if you intend to take your own car abroad. You should also tell your insurance company if you need an International Driving Licence, Green Card or Bail Bond.

In most European countries, it is a legal requirement that drivers carry a red warning triangle in case of breakdown or accident. Also, it is more and more common to need a yellow high visibility jacket or vest too and possibly a breathalyser. Headlamp converters are compulsory for all right-hand drive cars in Europe and so is a GB sticker if your car doesn't have Euro plates with a GB symbol on them.

Keeping Things Sober

Drinking and driving is illegal and harshly punishable across Europe and in the USA, so don't drink and drive full stop. If you're caught you could be looking at a fine, a ban, a spell in prison or probably a combination of all three. There's only one thing to do - don't!

Driving a right-hand drive car on the 'other' side of the road means you are not in the best position to see ahead. Overtaking is a difficult and potentially dangerous manoeuvre. You must always be sure that your overtake is going to be safe. And it isn't recommended that you rely on your passenger.

Saying 'Think Right - Look left' to yourself every time you start to drive or approach a roundabout or road junction is a good way to keep your concentration. This will put you in the right place on the road, travelling in the direction of the traffic flow and looking in the direction from where the first danger is most likely to come.

Top Tip: Saying 'Think Right - Look Left' to yourself as you approach junctions will help to avoid your natural inclination to want to drive on the left side of the road.

Remember people are hiring or driving cars abroad every day of the week. It can take a little getting used to, but with some good preparation and taking your time at first, you should be safe and sound. Have a great time!

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