Around a quarter of expats and holidaymakers driving around Europe fail to gear up about motoring laws while they are overseas, according to new research.
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Car insurer Aviva says many drivers do not realise that the rules of the road are different in every country – and that they must obey the laws of any country they are passing through on the way to their final destination.
More than a fifth of drivers are also uninsured when abroad, the survey found.
“Police are tough on drivers who break the law and many British motorists inadvertently face fines or even arrest because they do not research their trips before they go,” said Steve Ashford, head of the firm’s motor insurance underwriting team.
He warned that drivers must know which documents and equipment to take with them. It’s also a good idea to check insurance policies as they are likely to only apply to the country where they are taken out.
“Road side breakdown cover is also essential to cover the costs of an emergency breakdown or an accident.”
Rules to watch for
Ashford gave some examples of how drivers can unwittingly break the law on the road in Europe:
- France – Technology that warns of speed cameras is illegal and must be disabled or switched off. The penalty can include driving licence confiscation or impounding the vehicle
- Spain – If you wear glasses or contact lenses you must have a spare pair in the car or face a fine
- Norway – Headlights must be on all the time the vehicle is in use, even in daylight
- Finland – Don’t toot the horn unless you sense danger and definitely report any accident involving deer, elk or moose – it’s treated as a hit and run if you do not
- Germany – Recommended speed limits on motorways can be as high as 80 mph and stopping on a motorway is illegal even if you run out of fuel
Expats car cover
Ashford also explained that if a driver crossed the Channel into France and drives on to Spain, Italy or further afield, insurance has to cover each country that is crossed.
Often expats also keep their UK driving licence and car insurance while living overseas and in most cases the insurance is not valid.
Even if a UK driver has comprehensive insurance offering cover overseas, this is generally only third party and needs upgrading and generally costs extra.
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