There’s nothing more exciting than seeing Europe on a road trip, but are you aware of the regulations you need to follow when driving in European countries? A new survey from ATS Euromaster has revealed that many UK drivers are not aware of such regulations. Here’s what you should know before taking your car overseas…
Follow compulsory health and safety provisions
When travelling in Europe, it is vital (and also legally required) that you take appropriate health and safety precautions should your vehicle break down or suffer an unfortunate accident. In your required equipment checklist you should have a reflective high-vis jacket for each passenger in the vehicle. These should be kept in the main vehicle cabin so they are easily accessible. You should also have a warning triangle that you can display at the side of the road should you break down or have an accident.
This piece of equipment is essential, as it will flag to other motorists that there is a hazard in the road that they will need to avoid. It goes without saying that a warning triangle is essential after nightfall. Warning triangles are compulsory when driving in most European countries. First aid kits are also compulsory in France, Austria and Germany, so drivers must have one in the car with them at all times, even if they aren’t planning on staying in these countries (but are still driving through them).
ATS Euromaster found in their recent survey that only 24% of drivers from the UK journeying through Europe carried first aid kits in their cars. This was followed by just 22% carrying warning triangles in the event of a breakdown or accident, and just 19% opting to have reflective jackets in their cars.
Check that you have valid insurance
Under EU law, if you have a car insurance policy from the UK, you automatically receive third party cover if you drive within the EU. This means that your insurance provider will pay you if you hit another car and cause damage to that car (but not your own), or if your car is stolen. Always ensure that you have a certificate of your car insurance in your vehicle so that you can prove to authorities in Europe that you are covered.
If you are planning on driving to or through a European country that isn’t part of the EU or EEA, you will need to obtain a green card from your insurer. A green card is an insurance certificate that proves you have sufficient cover to drive in countries such as Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Turkey and Ukraine. A green card isn’t needed for countries such as Andorra, Serbia or Switzerland. If the UK leaves the EU with no deal following Brexit, you may need a green card for other EU countries. It is important to call your insurer before your trip to make sure that you and any others driving your vehicle are covered. According to statistics revealed in an ATS Euromaster survey, in the UK, 50% of drivers have insured their partner to drive their car. If you and your partner are driving in Europe, you will both need appropriate insurance.
Make sure you carry the right legal documents
You must carry the right legal documents with you when driving in Europe. You car could be towed by the authorities, or you may risk paying a hefty fine if you do not have the correct documents. Make sure to check the entry requirements of the country you are visiting (and those you are driving through). Important documents include:
- Your passport (this should have at least six months on it before expiry)
- Relevant travel insurance documents such as a certificate, and a green card (if applicable)
- A valid driving licence
- The original log book for your vehicle (V5C)
- A DVLA licence check code (if renting a car)
- A certificate of MOT. 61% of respondents in the recent ATS Euromaster survey say that if an MOT wasn’t a legal requirement, they would still get one every year, but 15% of respondents said they wouldn’t get an MOT. An MOT is a crucial document that ensures your vehicle’s safety, and you should make sure that your MOT is up to date before departing for Europe.
Carry spare change for toll charges
There are many toll roads in Europe which you’ll need change for – especially in Spain, France and Italy. Typically, you will need to pay at the toll in cash to use the road. While there are some toll roads that accept cards, many still take cash only, so it is good to be prepared. Keep loose change in a pot in your car with all the relevant currencies you will need for your journey.
You will need headlight converters
You will need headlight converters if you are taking your car overseas to Europe. This is because the headlights on your car, which are designed for driving on the left hand side of the road, will dazzle drivers that drive on the right hand side of the road. When driving in Europe, it is important to use headlight converters that adjust the dipped beam on your headlights to prevent them from dazzling other drivers, which is a legal requirement in many countries. If you do not use headlight converters, you could be fined by the authorities.