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Tips for driving abroad this half-term

21st May 2013 Print

With many UK holidaymakers packing their bags and driving across the continent this half-term, Post Office Car Insurance reminds motorists to plan ahead, to ensure a safe and trouble-free trip.

Paul Havenhand, Head of Insurance at Post Office, said: "The summer half-term holiday is a very popular time to take a trip abroad; with the continent a simple ferry or train journey away many holidaymakers will choose to take their car with them.  However, drivers should make sure they are equipped to deal with the different driving rules for each country, and are also prepared to deal with any accidents or breakdowns they may encounter.
"A simple checklist can help motorists to plan ahead.  The most important step is to check they are covered by their insurance policy - and how long it will provide them with cover for whilst driving in Europe.  They should also find out whether or not their insurer will automatically downgrade their policy to provide only the minimum level of cover for the country they are driving in.
"While drivers cannot guarantee against accidents happening abroad, they can take steps to make sure they're prepared, particularly as many European countries have different rules to Britain. As part of their planning, it is important for motorists to check they are covered for any breakdowns and roadside recovery, and travel with a breakdown kit and reflective jackets in case they are caught roadside."
Post Office's Driving Abroad Checklist:
For you:

Make sure you carry your insurer's details with you abroad, so you are able to contact them in the event of an accident.  In addition, many offer 24-hour UK telephone service in case you need help in an emergency.

Double check your insurance covers you for driving abroad and whether or not your policy is downgraded.  It is also important to note any exclusions that may be applied to the policy when driving abroad.

Ensure you have the necessary documents, including: full driving licence, driving licence paper counterpart, V5c, your motor insurance certificate with contact details of your insurer and passports.

Make sure you check the driving laws in your chosen destination - for example, in Europe motorists drive on the right side of the road.

Familiarise yourself with varying speed limits which are likely to change dependent on whether you're driving on a country road, in a city/ town centre, or on an expressway or highway.

Ensure you have adequate breakdown cover. It is advisable that you service your car ahead of your trip to avoid the chance of a breakdown.

Don't rely on your satnav and ensure you have comprehensive maps for the countries you are driving in and spend some time planning your route ahead of your trip. Satnav requirements also change from country to country. For example, in France, it is illegal to use a Satnav that possesses radar detection indicating the location of fixed speed cameras.

Ensure you are aware of all the driving laws of the country that you are driving in

Make sure you take frequent rest breaks and always pull over for a rest if you're feeling tired.

Many countries in Europe operate toll roads so make sure you have sufficient money to pay for the cost of tolls. It's also important to keep some spare money to cover any unexpected costs.

For your car:

Protect your car from being broken into by behaving vigilantly; do not leave valuables in sight, check the vehicle is locked, and park in well-lit and safe places

Compile a breakdown kit, including; fire extinguisher, first-aid kit, tool kit, spare bulbs, torch, blanket and warning triangle.

In Europe, you must display a GB sign on your car. Countries outside the EU require you to have a GB sticker, even if you have a GB Euro plate.

Make sure you have the appropriate equipment. Many countries require you to carry at least two reflective jackets, (in some countries the reflective jacket must be carried inside the vehicle and not placed in the boot), hazard triangles

Make appropriate modifications to your headlights - driving on the opposite side of the road means that your left-drive headlights will dazzle oncoming drivers.

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