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How to prepare for driving abroad

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It’s easy to take your car to mainland Europe. Things may get more complicated after Brexit, but for now the thing that puts most people off going to Europe – apart from not being able to speak the language – is knowing the rules of the road.

What do I need to know when driving in Europe?

Driving on the right is only the start of it; you also need to brush up on a stack of other things to make sure you don’t end up handing over a fortune in fines. A good starting point is to check out driving.drive-alive.co.uk, which will tell you everything you need to know to stay safe and legal. That means:

    • Leave any speed camera locators at home, as they’re illegal in parts of Europe. Get caught with one and it’ll be confiscated and you’ll be fined too.
    • Pack a warning triangle, fluorescent jackets, first aid kit, fire extinguisher and some spare bulbs – all of which are worth carrying anyway. You should also fit headlamp deflectors so you don’t dazzle oncoming traffic, and a GB plate for the back of your car is essential too.
    • Buy the most detailed atlas you can – or if you use a sat-nav, make sure its maps are up to date. Getting lost in the streets of Hamburg or Paris isn’t much fun.
    • Carry identification with you as you may be asked for it, if stopped by the police.  Never leave it in the car though; take it with you at all times.
    • Carry out basic car maintenance before you go.  For example, make sure your oil and water are topped up and your tyres have enough tread.
    • Blood alcohol levels are generally stricter than in England and Wales (0.5mg/ml rather than 0.8mg/ml).  If you’re driving, don’t drink.
    • Contact your breakdown cover provider to get your policy extended to cover you while abroad.