Driving In Europe

There are several things to consider when driving in Europe. Road rules and legal requirements differ from country to country, so be sure to do your research before leaving, but you can find some general advice here about what to expect, particularly if you’ve not ventured abroad in your car before.

Get it right

In most European countries (with the exception of the Republic of Ireland, Cyprus and Malta), motorists drive on the right hand side of the road. Be mindful of that as you approach junctions and roundabouts and take extra care until you get used to driving on the right.

Lighting up

Headlamp adjustments are a legal requirement on the continent. Headlights on the cars we use in the UK are angled to the left to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers. That means that when driving on the right, they will dazzle oncoming motorists. It’s essential to use stickers to adjust the direction of the beam – they’re inexpensive and can be purchased either before you leave or on the ferry.

Change is good

Many of the faster roads, particularly in France, have toll charges, so hold on to loose change to help you pay the costs as you go.

All mapped out

While sat-navs are useful abroad, it’s also helpful to have a road map handy in case the sat-nav fails or isn’t quite up to date. Also bear in mind that in some countries, it is illegal to have the radar detection for fixed speed cameras turned on.

Tow the line

There are specific rules for towing caravans or trailers abroad too. For example, in Spain any motorhome or car/caravan over 12m in length is required to have marker boards fitted to the back. These must be plain yellow with a red outline, be made of aluminium and manufactured to ECE70 standards.

If you’re towing a car behind a motorhome, it’s recommended that you use a trailer instead of an A frame, as the latter can incur a fine in some countries.

Kit out the car

Make sure you are up to date on what specific countries require you to carry in the car. For example, in France it is necessary to have a high visibility vest or jacket for the driver and each passenger inside the car in case of an accident or breakdown. In Spain, motorists must carry two warning triangles to give advance notice to traffic coming from both directions. Check on websites such as the AA or RAC for details on what to carry in each country.