Facts for staying safe whilst driving abroad this summer

Driving abroad this summer? Here's some facts for staying safe

Over recent weeks there has been numerous articles posted through social media on the exposures to driving abroad and so in light of the next UK’s August bank holiday we thought that it would be useful to highlight some of the facts for those of you who are about to embark on an exciting holiday in your vehicle across and into Europe.

Driving through Europe is amazing! Taking in the beautiful scenery across many of its historical countries is breath-taking as you stop and enjoy villages, towns and cities across the continent. Driving to a destination enables holiday tourists to really see a country for its inner beauty and so as a driver what should you do to ensure you stay safe whilst driving abroad?

 Planning is key! – Don’t just rely on your vehicles built in sat nav. Travelling by boat and then driving into France, Belgium or Norway and beyond, can take a long time. Plan your route clearly and download or print off a map. Write key notes on major towns that you will be heading for, so that it is easier to follow sign posts. AA Route Planner: http://www.theaa.com/route-planner/index.jsp and Google Maps: https://www.google.co.uk/maps offer good online tools to plan your route and will also give you an estimate on journey time so that you can decide where to take a break or even make an overnight stop.

Take a vehicle check! – On a road trip, no driver wants a flat tyre or a vehicle to break down because of a minor fault. Check your vehicle thoroughly before you set off in terms of tyre condition and their pressures, oil and water under the bonnet, plus wipers and external bulbs.  Ensuring that you know your vehicle will be reliable and safe whilst driving abroad is essential. If the vehicle hasn’t had a full service for a while, then it maybe worth booking it into your local mechanic specialist so that you are entirely sure that it is in tip top condition. They will also highlight if there is any more mechanical work that needs doing, such as disks and brake pads, etc, which is less visible to the driver’s eye. If you own an Audi, BMW, BMW Mini or Mercedes then you make like to find out more through our own service and maintenance facilities at www.stourbridgeautomotive.co.uk

Be prepared! – In addition to your main holiday luggage there are also some key items which you should take with you. Take plenty of water to keep you hydrated and food to refuel when necessary. Some warm blankets are useful if you are unfortunate enough to break down and are also helpful for resting whilst on route. Take a phone and make sure it is fully charged.

Important Documents – Ensure that you have all passports for drivers and passengers and that they are in date.  According to the transportation.gov website – https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/passport-validity-period-travel-europe you need an extra 3 months from your return date for passport validity when travelling in Europe and it is 6 months for travelling outside of the EU.

Don’t just rely on digital copies of documents through a phone or tablet.  Print off booking and confirmation sheets for sailing and your holiday accommodation.

Ensure that you have your driving license. You won’t need an ‘international driving license’ as it doesn’t actually exist according to the RAC website – https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/travel/driving-abroad/international-driving-licence/ . A photocard license is generally accepted across EU countries, however it’s worth checking as in addition you may need to apply for an International Driving Permit which allows you access into 140 countries – https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/travel/driving-abroad/international-driving-permit/ so please check the individual countries that you will be driving through.

Double check that your current insurance policy provides insurance cover for you and your passengers whilst driving abroad. If it doesn’t then you may need to upgrade or take out a separate policy. Print off all insurance documents.

Book your European breakdown cover. You can do this through main UK companies such as RAC – https://www.rac.co.uk/breakdown-cover/european-breakdown-cover and The AA – https://www.theaa.com/european-breakdown-cover/

European Requirements

Individual countries have specific legal requirements whilst driving so it is crucial that you check the requirements of individual countries you will be travelling through before you head off.

For example:

  • Driving in France it is compulsory that you carry a warning triangle and you must apply reflective stickers to your headlights on your right-hand drive car. By law you must also carry spare bulbs and present a GB sticker in the window.
  • Driving in Spain it is compulsory that you carry a warning triangle and you must apply reflective stickers to your headlights on your right-hand drive car and present a GB sticker in the wndow. If your vehicle breaks down, then you must wear a reflective jacket otherwise you could be fined for not being visible on the hardshoulder.
  • Driving in Germany you are required by law to display emissions sticker known as (Umweltplakette). This is required in major towns and cities which are monitored by emissions standards.

Further information on driving abroad

For further information on driving abroad, please check the .gov website – https://www.gov.uk/driving-abroad. Here you’ll find all the facts and requirements to help you on your way. If you would like to find out more about preparing your vehicle and having it checked for driving abroad then please do not hesitate to speak to our team at www.stourbridgeautomotive.co.uk. Our fully qualified and experienced team provide service, maintenance and repair support to Audi, BMW, BMW Mini and Mercedes vehicles in the West Midlands. To make a booking please contact us: https://www.stourbridgeautomotive.co.uk/contact-us/