Driving in Europe Tips and Road Rules
European Driving Advice – Driving in europe
How to drive in Europe
Driving in Europe isn’t all that different from driving anywhere else, but it takes a day or two to adjust. Drive carfully, defensively, observe, avoid driving in cities when you can, follow the signs and wear your seat belt. Before you travel be sure that you have everything you need for driving in Europe and abroad.
International Driving Permit? Driver’s license?
The IDP isn’t a driver’s license. Instead, it’s a translation of your valid U.S.-issued driver’s license that is recognized in more than 150 countries around the world. This small paper booklet looks like a passport and includes your photograph, plus information from your license translated into 10 different languages. Use the IDP in conjunction with your U.S. driver’s license. If a police officer pulls you over, show him or her both your IDP and your license.
While many countries in Europe don’t require the IDP, car rental agencies doing business in that country might. Always clarify whether or not you need the IDP with your car rental company. Also, proof of insurance is required in many countries.
Know where you’re going – Whether you’re a traditionalist with a well-worn pile of maps, or a road expert guided by the power of GPS, it’s a good idea to carry some guidance with you. If you like to plan ahead, plan before you leave home. Look at the routes you will be taking and see if there are any special difficulties along the way.
When driving in Europe, there are numerous rules and regulations, bye laws and procedures that differ from country to country. Here are some laws you will need to know when driving in Europe
Know the laws:
• Lights: Many European countries require you to have your headlights on anytime the car is running, even in broad daylight.
• Phones: Nearly all countries forbid talking on a cell phone without a hands-free headset.
• No right on red: It’s also illegal to turn right on a red light, unless a sign or signal specifically authorizes it (most common in Germany).
• Kids: Most countries require safety seats for children under age three, but a few — including Ireland and Germany — require booster seats for older kids. In nearly all countries, children under 12 aren’t allowed to ride in the front seat without a booster seat; a few ban kids from the front seat no matter what, and some have these front-seat rules for teens up to age 18.
• Safety kit: Many countries require each car to carry a reflective safety vest or kit with a reflecting triangle (typically supplied by the rental company).
• Breathalyzers: In France, all cars need to have an unused Breathalyzer on board (supplied if your rental starts in France, but ask about this if you’re picking up the car elsewhere).
• Low-emissions zones: In many cities, cars must meet a certain emission standard in order to enter.
Know the signs Consult a recent guide on road signs for the areas you’re planning to visit and make sure that you can recognise and understand signs that vary from those in the UK and USA. Also, keep in mind that speed limits in Europe are often displayed in kilometres rather than miles. Road Signs in Europe
Road Tolls: In many countries, expect to pay to use highways and motorways tolls. Keep the loose change – many European countries operate toll roads, so make sure you have plenty of loose change in the correct currency to cover the cost of tolls. It is also worthwhile keeping some spare money to cover any unexpected costs that crop up along the way. It’s free to drive on motorways in some countries, such as nearly all highways in Great Britain and Germany’s famous autobahn.
Stick to the road rules make sure you obey the rules and regulations of the road. This means sticking to all the speed limits and observing what we may think are rather obscure rules – e.g. in Spain and Switzerland, if you wear prescription glasses, always carry a spare set; and in Spain, never wear flip flops while driving and in Italy only park in the direction of the flow of traffic. Observing the local rules will make your holiday go much smoother.
Roundabouts remember most European countries drive on the right-hand side of the road (the exceptions are: the UK, Irish Republic, Cyprus and Malta). This means that typically, you’ll be negotiating roundabouts in an anti-clockwise direction rather than clockwise! If you find you have to overtake, exercise extra caution as it is not easy in a left-hand drive car and may be safer when you reach a stretch of dual carriageway.
Adjust your headlights
It is compulsory in many European countries to adjust your headline beam pattern to a
dipped beam for driving on the right-hand side. This will help you avoid dazzling oncoming
drivers. You may need to have this professionally done before you leave home, so don’t leave
it until the last minute.
Watch out, thieves – protect your car from being broken into by exercising vigilance. Don’t leave valuables in sight, check your vehicle is locked and park in safe, well-lit areas.
The “Going Abroad” app, launched by the European Commission, covers information about topics that carry the biggest risk for crashes, like speed and alcohol limits, traffic lights, and talking on cell phones. It also informs about laws regarding seat belt usage in cars and when it is necessary to wear helmets on bikes and motorcycles.