Golden rules for drivers
Saturday 30 August 2008
Pulling a fast one
According to the AA, the biggest mistake UK drivers make is thinking that they can dodge driving and parking offences in Europe. Be warned, French police have taken to setting highly effective mobile speed cameras on autoroutes commonly used by UK holiday drivers. Those caught will have to pay an on-the-spot fine. In France and Spain especially, enforcement is fiercer than it has been in the past. Also if you hire a car, the authorities will almost certainly chase up fines via the car hire firm.
Priority to the right
The golden rule of European road travel but one that it never hurts to repeat. On small islands such as Menorca or in rural parts of France, the road markings are not always particularly helpful. The key thing is to look for the yellow diamond sign (the Dutch use a thick arrow with a line across) and if there is a black line through be extra careful.
Original registration documents, a GB sticker or Euro registration plate and headlamp adjustments are all compulsory legal requirements to drive in all EU countries. In addition most countries require or recommend that you carry a warning triangle, reflective jacket (prevalent in France) and first aid kit. You can check www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/overseas/compulsory_equipment.html for clarification. If you hire a car in Europe, check that these items are in place as police may hold you responsible, not the hire company, if they are not.
Present and Correct
Language barriers can lead to unnecessary misunderstandings where paper work is concerned. In the EU (plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), you can use a UK licence. If you are taking your own car, you will need to check with your insurance company that your insurance is valid. Wherever you drive in Europe, it is mandatory to carry the original Vehicle Registration Document. If you don't have this, you will need a letter of authority available from the RAC and AA. Each passenger should also carry a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which has replaced the old E111 form.
No Mates Rates
If you're taking a car into another country, it should be for your own use and must not be lent or hired to anyone else. If you decide to leave it behind, or sell it, you must tell the local customs office.
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