News story

Do your homework before hitting the road in Europe

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

New survey shows more British nationals need to do their homework before taking to the wheel in Europe this summer.

Road safety

Although driving regulations vary from country to country, new research issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Carrentals.co.uk reveals that nearly half of British nationals who have driven abroad didn’t research local road laws before travelling.

The survey also shows that more experienced British drivers are just as guilty of not doing their homework, with 64% saying they didn’t feel it was necessary to prepare for their next trip. Over a quarter said they were unsure of drink driving regulations in the country they were travelling to, with 20% admitting to not knowing what equipment they should carry in their car.

Nearly a quarter of British nationals surveyed found driving abroad stressful, while only half carried out research online before driving in Europe.

A significant 40% reveal they are unsure what to do if they are involved in a road traffic accident.

The findings come as the FCO and Carrentals.co.uk encourages British travellers to be better prepared for driving in mainland Europe this summer. The FCO have released a video to raise awareness of the main differences in driving regulations and conditions.

Driving Safely in Europe

The survey was commissioned to help the FCO learn more about how British travellers prepare for their European road trips.

Knowing more about the type of preparation British nationals do and don’t do before driving in Europe helps the FCO provide advice and information that will be of the most use to Britons in the run up to their trip.

The FCO urges travellers do their homework by watching our video and consulting the FCO’s information on driving abroad. You can follow @fcotravel on Twitter for the latest updates.

The AA and the RAC also have advice on driving in specific countries including information on compulsory equipment.

Richard Chapman, the FCO’s Director of Consular Services for Germany, said:

Every year British Consulates around Europe provide assistance to British nationals involved in road traffic accidents or incidents. Researching the local driving rules and conditions – can help you to have a trouble free trip.

Take particular care with alcohol limits, which are often lower than in the UK, and carry the right documents including European breakdown cover.

We hope you won’t need it but the number for the emergency services is 112 in Europe – it is a good idea to store this number in your phone just in case.

Gareth Robinson, Managing Director of Carrentals.co.uk, said:

We would encourage everyone planning to drive abroad to research their destination as laws are not always the same as in the UK. The survey found that 59% of people expect their hire car company to provide all the necessary information on local driving conditions, but it is not mandatory for suppliers to provide this.

There are regular reforms to driving laws, for example Spain and Portugal have both recently made numerous amendments to their regulations, so holidaymakers need to do their research every time they travel, even if they have driven in the country previously.

Published 31 July 2014