Travelling and driving abroad can be fun if you stay out of trouble. Unfortunately, not too many people know what it takes to avoid trouble when they drive abroad. Below is a guide that explains what it takes to drive abroad without getting into trouble with the law of your host country.
Driving in Europe and EU countries
It is important to do your research before venturing into driving in Europe. One of the major things to remember as you embark on such rides is to drive on the right-hand side, which is pretty easy when you are on the motorway and dual-carriages.
You also want to be careful at junctions and roundabouts, as many people tend to drive on the wrong side in these places. While your UK driver’s licence might suffice across European countries, it is worth noting that authorities tend to get sniffy especially if the licence is less than a year old.
What you need to have in your car when driving
A hired car will usually come with everything you need but if this is not the case, it might be required that you have some additional equipment in your car in compliance with the local regulations. It is, therefore, important to check for such regulations before getting into the car, with France particularly being one of the stringent countries with such regulations.
One of the commonest items that are required for you to have in your car when you drive is a warning triangle. It is also required that you have a hi-vis vest or jacket for every occupant of the car. The vests should be easily accessible to everyone in the car and not tucked away somewhere in the boot.
Countries like France require that you have a breathalyser to self-test your blood-alcohol level. It is also required in many European countries to carry as many spare bulbs as possible. You might also want to find out if you will be needing headlight deflectors as UK cars are configured for left-hand side driving, and this might dazzle other road users.
Just as there are things you are required to have in the car when you drive, there are also things that you are prohibited from having. They include radar detectors in France and ‘dash cams’ – video cameras in Austria and Luxembourg.
It is always advised that you stay away from drinking when you drive and if you ever want to do it, ensure that you get it out of your system before getting behind the wheels. It is worth noting that most countries have lower blood-alcohol limits with higher penalties compared to the UK.
Toll roads are not very popular in the UK compared with other European countries like France. There is the pay-as-you-go option when it comes to paying tolls. In this instance, you have to have a container filled with change as you drive around and this can be frustrating, to say the least.
The easier and more sensible option, especially for persons that will be driving a lot in France, is to take the electronic tag option, which is linked to your account online. It is always best to set up the account before leaving the UK.
The effect of Brexit on driving in Europe
The effect of Brexit will be felt as from the second half of 2018 as everything remains the same till then.
It is important that your car is insured for driving abroad whether in Europe or other countries.
Hiring a Car
The process of hiring a car has changed a bit since the abolition of a paper counterpart of the driver’s licence in mid-2015. It is now required that you have a code from the DVLA website, to be shared with the car-hire company to assess your licence.
It is imperative to document the damage noticed on the car and report to the hire company before leaving with the car and return with a full tank to avoid paying a huge bill.
Driving in America
Americans drive on the right-hand side of the road but unlike Europe, the speed-limit comes in miles per hour and not kilometres. The limits are also lower compared to what is obtainable in the UK. The differences in legislations guiding road usage in the US can sometimes make it difficult to drive in the US. It is, therefore, important to find out about the state you intend visiting before setting out on the journey.
The minimum age for hiring a car in the US is 21, even as some companies have set their age limit to 25. The DVLA check code needs to be provided just like any other country when you are hiring a car. The hired car should contain all the legal requirements, but it will be helpful to research things like child car-seat laws and make you comply with the regulation to avoid trouble.
Getting an IDP – International Driving Permit that will cost you just £5.50 will be a very good one as it will help you pass through relatively tight areas.
The major things to look out for here include the speed limits that are posted in kilometres and not miles, and the need to hire a car that has all the legally required items.
You also need to have a DVLA check code to rent a car, and the car should be returned with a full tank. Your British driving licence will suffice but getting an IDP would not be a bad idea. The size of the country and its temperature require that you carry enough emergency provisions when you drive.
The size of the continent is an indication of the major differences that one should expect. The driving culture, standard, and even road surfaces tend to be different from what is obtainable in the UK. The general rule is to get an IDP.
Many of the countries in Asia drive to the right, with the likes of India, Japan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Sri Lanka being the exception. It is also important that you have the documents required for hiring a car and the car is compliant with the rules of the land.
Acclimatisation to the new place is very important as it helps to easily get around the country. It is also important to do your research about your host country, especially about their driving rules and practice.