This year thousands of Brits will pack up their cars and drive across the continent in search of some sun. But how many will brush up on local driving regulations to make sure their trip goes smoothly?
A survey conducted by Gocompare.com found that only 50% of drivers bother to check local driving laws before they travel, meaning that they run the risk of getting in trouble with the local authorities.
Don’t believe us? Just check out some of the unusual dos and don’ts of driving laws in Europe that could land unsuspecting travellers in hot water.
1. Don’t forget your breathalyser
In France it’s compulsory for all drivers to carry a breathalyser in their car at all times.
The law demands that you must be able to produce an unused and certified breathalyser (showing an ‘NF’ number), so it’s recommended you take two in case one is lost, used or damaged.
2. Time to wash the car
Driving a dirty car probably isn’t the best way to impress the locals, but in Russia, Romania and Belarus a muddy motor could actually land you with a hefty fine.
3. Pack your spare specs
If you need glasses to drive and are planning a road trip to Spain, you might want to dig out your spare pair. In Spain, people who need to wear glasses whilst driving have to carry a second set of specs in case the ones they’re wearing get lost or broken.
In some Swedish towns and suburban areas parking restrictions are regulated by the date. This is called ‘Datumparkering’.
On odd days parking is not permitted on the side of the road with odd numbers and, on even days, parking is not permitted on the side of the road with even numbers. There are variations of this law in both Spain and Belgium.
5. Fill the tanks
Germany’s Autobahn is famous for having stretches of motorway without speed restrictions.
If you find yourself in one of these areas and fancy putting pedal to the metal remember to keep a close eye on the fuel gauge.
Running out of petrol on the Autobahn is illegal as it’s seen as a ‘preventable obstruction’.
If you do happen to find yourself running on empty, pulling over and taking a stroll to the nearest petrol station could see your problems doubled as walking along the Autobahn is also illegal.
6. Give the drive-through a miss
For most of us having a coffee or a quick bite to eat when behind the wheel doesn’t seem like a big deal (although it could land you in trouble for driving without due care and attention).
While it’s a bit of a gamble in the UK, doing so in Cyprus is guaranteed to land you in a spot of bother with the local authorities.
Eating and drinking while driving is against the law and you could be fined for doing so. It’s also illegal to smoke in a car where one of the passengers is under the age of 16.
7. Park with perfection
The penalty for parking illegally usually consists of a fine, or at worst getting your car clamped.
However in Greece, not paying attention to parking restrictions could have more serious repercussions as traffic police have the power to confiscate the licence plates or tow an illegally parked vehicle.
8. Keep your eyes peeled for pedestrians
In Switzerland and Lichtenstein pedestrians have the absolute right of way, so if you find yourself driving through a residential area, slow down and keep an eye out for locals who could step out into the road at any moment.
9. Stock up on antifreeze
Clearing the windscreen of snow and ice is something most motorists will be familiar with.
But, if you find yourself driving through Europe during the colder months you may have to be a bit more liberal with the antifreeze.
In Bosnia-Herzegovina and Slovakia it’s illegal to drive a car without completely clearing it of ice and snow, failure to do so will result in a fine.
10. Prepare for the weather
Many road safety regulations are shaped by local weather patterns. Luxembourg has an average monthly rainfall of 63mm, meaning that windscreen wipers are a compulsory safety feature for every vehicle.(Weirdly the law doesn’t say anything about the need for a windshield in the first place).
For everything you need to know about driving laws in Europe, check out Gocompare.com’s interactive driving map.