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Stay safe whilst driving abroad

Stay safe whi,st driving abroad
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Taking to the roads in a foreign country can be daunting, but a little preparation before you go will help you to get behind the wheel with confidence. You cannot assume that the laws, road signs and etiquette will be the same as in the UK. They may be similar, but basing your driving decisions on assumptions can lead to trouble. Here’s how to ensure you stay safe whilst driving abroad.

You’re Not on Holiday

It’s easy to relax on holiday, but allowing your chilled persona to drive is a bad idea – you need to be as alert and vigilant when driving abroad as you would in the UK. If possible even more so:

• Follow the road-rules of whatever country you are in

• Don’t be tempted to speed, ignore road signs, or park in illegal locations

• Wear your seatbelt, and ensure your passengers buckle up too

• Avoid overloading the boot of your car and obscuring the view to the rear

Don’t drink and drive – many countries operate a lower acceptable limit than in the UK – better to be safe than sorry

• Put down your mobile and keep it switched off

It’s not rocket science – remembering your responsibilities is a vital element of staying safe on the roads wherever you are.

Taking your own Car Abroad

This can be significantly cheaper than renting a car, and is highly practical if you are visiting Continental Europe. There are, however, things you must remember – the principal one being that they drive on the other side of the road. Not only is it vital to remind yourself of this every time you set off, you will also need to fit headlamp adjuster stickers to avoid blinding oncoming traffic at night.

Each country has its own rules on what drivers must carry in their vehicle, so ensure yours is stocked with the essentials for whichever nation you are visiting. These may include:

• GB sticker

• Hi-Vis jackets for the driver and passengers

• Emergency triangle

• Breathalyser kits

Many countries also insist that drivers carry their licence, passport, insurance documents and logbook with them. The police may ask to see these if you are stopped for any reason and in some countries it is also necessary to have an International Driving Permit.

Not all insurance policies cover you and your car outside of the UK. Check with your provider before you leave British shores, and purchase additional insurance if necessary. It is also highly advisable to have some kind of International Breakdown Cover.

Driving a Hire Car Abroad

Stay safe whilst driving abroadAlthough it can be more expensive to hire a car, it is sometimes the only practical solution. In paying for a rental vehicle you have option to purchase varying levels of insurance cover, so choose the option that works best for you. It is also important to check on the provision for Breakdown Assistance, and acquire this if it is not included in the standard price. Most rental companies ask for an excess deposit against a credit card, and will insist on seeing both the paper and card parts of your licence. Be sure to carry both with you.

General Tips for International Road Safety

• Remember which side of the road you are on – if necessary stick a reminder note on the dashboard. Be extra-careful at roundabouts and junctions, and when setting off afresh

• Beware of Pedestrian Crossings – rules on when to give way vary around the world. If in doubt, wait, but it’s always best to familiarise yourself with the regulations of each country before you arrive

• Know your speed limits – and remember that many countries will present speed instructions in kilometres per hour, not miles. It’s easy to forget this and drive faster than you intend to. Little markers on the speedometer can help to remind you of the differences

• Keep the tank more than half full – not all destinations have an abundance of fuel stations, and they are not always easy to find

• Take a Sat Nav – these can be a godsend if you find yourself lost in a foreign country. Alien road signs and indecipherable local maps can be a challenge to even the most seasoned traveller, so a back-up gadget is a must

• Be careful where you park – a local guidebook will help to steer you away from dodgy locations that may seem fine in daylight, but be less than welcoming in the dark.

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About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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