This year it is estimated over 10 million people are planning to drive their cars abroad this summer. When the Queen came to the throne 60 years ago, there were only 2 million cars on the roads and now it is estimated there are 26 million. The figures have certainly changed! Meanwhile, out of the 10 million people heading for foreign roads, a staggering third will knowingly take risks with the local driving laws and millions more will accidentally break the law through lack of knowledge and preparation. Sad statistics – and ones which could be easily reversed.
Research has indicated that just over a quarter of drivers were less concerned about breaking speed limits abroad than at home, while 18% took drink driving less seriously than at home.
A further 7% commented that they were less likely to use seatbelts abroad and 4% were more likely to use a mobile whilst driving abroad than at home. This would seem to indicate that they have some kind of death wish because a) the standard of driving in many countries is appalling and b) the road systems are different, confusing and require total concentration.
Around 10% of British drivers who use their cars abroad have had an accident whilst doing so (not surprisingly, in view of the above comments!). Actually, perhaps the statistics are not so bonkers when you consider that less than half of those about to drive abroad even bother to check the driving rules and regulations which apply to the country they are visiting. For example, only 49% of drivers will use a GB sticker – although this is compulsory – and less than a quarter will bother to learn what the local road signs mean.
One third of drivers don't even know if their car insurance covers them abroad – which means that two thirds are potentially driving without cover!
Driving laws vary for country to country – and ignorance is not an excuse. For example, if your destiny is France, you must carry a high visibility vest in your vehicle. In Spain, it is illegal to use a mobile phone in the car, even if you are pulled over to the side of the road. If you run out of fuel on a German autobahn, this is punishable by law. It simply is not worth the risk of being reckless, and having the holiday spirit is not a valid excuse for flouting the laws of the land in which you are driving.
Here are a few tips to keep you out of trouble:
> Get international breakdown cover
> Check what equipment you are required to carry by law – eg: warning triangles, reflective jackets, petrol cans, spare bulbs, etc
> Check the local driving laws for the country you are travelling to: the speed limits, regulations regarding child seats, minimum driving age, etc
> Do not ever, ever, drink and drive. You may think our laws can be tough – abroad they are much more draconian
> Make sure your car is road worthy. Get it serviced and ensure the tyres, breaks etc are all in tip top condition
> Adjust your headlights for driving on the right. You can be stopped if you 'dazzle' on-coming traffic
> If you do not have an EU plate with a GB sign on it, you'll need GB stickers for the vehicle
> Check your paperwork is in order – driving licence, insurance papers, proof of vehicle ownership, and international driving permit. Your insurance company or a motoring organisation can help with this
> Check what car insurance you have for driving abroad
> Plan your journey, make sure your satnav has the right maps and that you carry paper versions as well in case of technical hitches. Make sure you take enough breaks during your journey too.
Insurance – make it a priority. Take the advice of a professional advisor. Westhill Insurance Services has a friendly team who will be able to advise exactly what cover you need to make your motoring holiday safe and legal. As an independent broker, Westhill Insurance will shop around to make sure you have the cover you need at a price you can afford. In speaking with the staff at Westhill you can explore the options available to you and chose the cover to meet exactly your needs: this can save you money as you are buying only what you need, not what an on-line tick-box form offers you!
So, in essence, the trick is to remember that preparation will make for a worry-free and relaxed motoring experience. A holiday is there to be enjoyed – so take to the open road and explore all that this beautiful world has to offer, safe in the knowledge you are legally compliant, fully insured and ready to have a good time. Bon voyage!
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Contact Westhill Insurance Services, today.