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DRIVING ABROAD - Source FCO — Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Don't drive abroad unprepared — read our advice on insurance, breakdown cover, accidents and car hire. We've also got tips for motorbike drivers, things to look out for if you're a pedestrian abroad and advice on bus and coach travel.

Driving abroad — before you go

Don't go without taking:

Whilst you’re away:

Driving you own car:

You should have a GB sticker clearly visible on the back of your car if your number plate doesn't include this information. You'll also need headlamp converters if you're driving on the right-hand side of the road.

Hiring a vehicle:

Motorbikes:

Pedestrians:

Bus and Coaches:

If you have concerns over the safety of the vehicle don't get on and inform the tour rep or organiser. You should always wear a seatbelt if one is available and avoid travelling in overcrowded vehicles.

Source FCO — Foreign and Commonwealth Office © Crown copyright 2007 — jml Property Services hold a Core Licence C02W0000873
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Reflective Vests and warning Triangles:

A reflective vest is complusory in France, Italy, Belgium and Spain — In Spain you must carry reflective vests for all occupants. You must also carry two warning triangles in Spain, most other countries one.


Driving in France:

General Driving Tips (some of this information supplied by Holiday Autos) Speed limits :
Built-up-areas: 31mph/50kmh outside towns: 56mph/90kmh priority roads and toll-free motorways: 68mph/110kmh toll motorways: 81mph/130kmh

Drink and driving: See Drink Drive Laws

Traffic on major roads has priority. Where two major roads cross, traffic coming from the right has priority as warned by the sign 'danger priorité à droite'. Where there is no sign, give way to the right.

Traffic on a roundabout has priority and signs saying 'cedez le passage' or 'vous n'avez pas la prioritè'. In some areas the old rule of traffic entering roundabouts having priority applies so be cautious where there are no signs

If a driver flashes his headlights in France, he is generally indicating that he has priority and you should give way. This can be confusing as in the UK it usually indicates that a car is usually indicates that a car is letting you out.

Stopping for someone waiting at a zebra crossing is a fineable offence for holding up traffic. The crossings indicate where is best to cross.

Do not overtake a tram when it is stationary with passengers alighting or boarding.

Traffic lights don't show amber after red. Flashing amber means continue with caution.

It is compulsory for front and rear seat occupants to wear seat belts if fitted.

Carrying hazard warning lights or a warning triangle is compulsory. It is recommended that visitors equip their vehicle with replacement bulbs. From July 2008 A reflective vest is also complusory (like in Italy Belgium and Spain — In Spain you must carry reflective vests for all occupants).

Driving in Britain

General Driving Tips (Some of this information supplied by Holiday Autos) Speed limits :
Built-up areas: 30 mph single carriage ways: 60 mph dual carriage ways: 70 mph motorways: 70 mph.

Drink and driving: See Drink Drive Laws

Drive on the left and only overtake vehicles on the right.

At roundabouts, traffic coming from the right has priority.

Make sure you understand about double and single yellow line. parking.

It is illegal to use a hand-held mobile when driving.

As long as you hold a full licence in your own country and have done so for at least a year, you can drive on British roads.

Motorways are shown by 'M' plus a number on signs. There are no toll charges to pay on British motorways except the M4 Severn Bridge into Wales, the Humber Bridge near Hull, the M25 Dartford Tunnel and part of the M6 (north of Birmingham).

Try and avoid the M25 'London Orbital ' and the M5/M6 in Birmingham during rush hour times (0800-0930 and 1630-1800) as these can be extremely busy

Driving in Ireland

Drive on the LEFT

Seat Belts:These must be worn at all times in the front and back of vehicles.

Mobile phones: It is illegal to drive a vehicle or motorbike whilst using a hand held mobile phone. Since September 2006 drivers caught using their mobile phones in a car. or about to use them face an automatic 60 fine and two penalty points on the driving licence. If the person does not pay the fine within twenty eight days the fine can be increased to up to 2,000 and penalty pointd doubled to four.

Drink and driving: See Drink Drive Laws

Foglights must only be used in fog or falling snow.

You must not use a horn between 11pm and 7am.

The 'give way' signs are red triangles with the point at the bottom and the words 'yield right of way' or 'geill sli'.

Driving in Spain

General Driving Tips (Some of this information supplied by Holiday Autos)

Driving: Drive on the RIGHT

Speed limits : Towns: 31 mph/50kmh, outside built up areas: 56-62mph/90-100 kmh, motorways: 74mph/120kmh

Drink and driving: See Drink Drive Laws

On uneven (odd) dates in one-way streets in towns, vehicles should be parked on the side of the road where the houses bear uneven numbers. On the side where houses bear an even number, parking is allowed on these dates.

Drivers in Spain who wear glasses must carry a spare pair with them at all times.

Motorists must carry a set of replacement bulbs.

Reflective vests are also complusory (like in France, Belgium and Italy) — In Spain you must carry reflective vests for all occupants).

You must also carry two warning triangles.

Stationary trams may not be overtaken when passengers are boarding or alighting.

Outside built-up areas, signal your intention to overtake by sounding your horn in the daytime or by flashing headlights at night.

It is compulsory for front and rear seat occupants to wear seat belts if fitted.

Driving in Italy

General Driving Tips (Some information supplied by Holiday Autos)

Driving: Drive on the RIGHT

Speed limits :Built-up-areas:
31mph (50kmh), outside built-up areas on secondary roads:
55mph (90kmh), main roads 68mph (110kmh), motorways: 80mph (130kmh).

Drink and driving: See Drink Drive Laws

A reflective vest is also complusory (like in France, Belgium and Spain).

Take care in city city centres like Florence and Rome. There are now charges for non authorised vehicles — similar idea to London congestion charge and because of inter-European co-operation the fines can be sent to the owners home, so foreign registrations will not help.

It is compulsory to use vehicle lights half an hour after sunset until half an hour before sunrise.

On three-lane roads, the middle lane is reserved for overtaking.
No full beam lights allowed in built-up areas.

Driving in Greece

General Driving Tips (Some of this information supplied by Holiday Autos)

Driving:

Drive on the RIGHT

Speed limits :Built-up areas: 50kmh/31mph major roads outside towns: 80kmh/50mph major roads outside towns:100kmh/62 mph).

Drink and driving: See Drink Drive Laws

It is compulsory to carry a first aid kit, fire extinguisher and warning triangle.

It is illegal to carry a can of petrol in a vehicle.

It is illegal to use a horn at any time in towns apart from warning of danger.

A motor vehicle parked at night on a public road must have the rear red light clearly illuminated.

Few petrol stations will accept credit cards.

Another car flashing its headlights at you generally means 'move over, I'm coming through'


Driving in Malta

General Driving Tips (Some of this information supplied by Holiday Autos)

In Malta,driving is on the left. There are speed limits of 64 kph on the open road and 40 kph in built- up areas. Comprehensive insurance is advisable. National or international driving licences accepted.

Drink and driving: See Drink Drive Laws.

It is compulsory to carry a warning triangle.

Seat belts are compulsory in the front and, if fitted, in the rear.

Driving in Belgium

General Driving Tips (Some of this information supplied by Holiday Autos)

Vehicles drive on the RIGHT and overtake on the left.

Speed limits Built-up areas: 50kmh/31mph major roads outside towns: 90kmh/56mph motorways: 120kmh/74mph

Drink and driving: See Drink Drive Laws

A 'blue zone' parking system operates in major towns. Discs are available from police, garages and tobacconists.

Seat belts are compulsory in both the front and rear

It is compulsory to carry a warning triangle.

Reflective vests are also complusory

Dipped headlights should be used between dusk and dawn.

Driving on side lights only is illegal.

Motoring offences attract an on-the-spot fine. An official receipt should be issued.

Do not park within 50 feet (15m) of a bus, tram or trolleybus stop or in the immediate vicinity of train and tram lines crossing the road.

Traffic entering roundabouts has priority except where signs say 'cedez le passage' or 'vous n'avez pas la priorité', where the traffic on the roundabout has priority

Please note that the above information should not be relied on for accuracy as regulations are constantly changing in the countries quoted

There are an excellent selection of Driving Guides at the insurance4carrental.com site

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