Tag Archives: Driving

Driving in Europe Advice

Driving in Europe Advise

Driving in Europe AdviceA few simple steps can help ensure your driving trip to mainland Europe runs smoothly. Much of the best advice is common sense – ensure that your trip is well-planned, that your vehicle is in good working order and that you take your time.

However, rules and regulations vary from country to country – our checklist below is not intended to be comprehensive but covers what we think are the most important

Documents you should take with you:driving licence with paper counterpart if applicablevehicle registration document (V5)passportEuropean breakdown call-out number, Breakdown cover, make sure your policy includes European cover – if it doesn’t, don’t worry – it’s easy to top it up. Just call your insurance company or email customer care and normaly they happy to help. If you don’t currently have breakdown cover, you can get an online quote in seconds for either annual European cover or Single-Trip.

Breaking down on motorways in France
If you breakdown on a motorway in France you will have to use the emergency phones at the side of the road to call out the recovery service operated by the French police – nobody else is permitted to attend broken down vehicles on this type of road. You will be charged a fee, but if you ask to be taken to the nearest exit slip, you can ask your own breakdown service provider to take you from there.

French roads, new drivers and speed limits
Whilst on the subject of motorways, it’s worth noting that in France lower speed limits apply to visiting drivers who have held a driving licence for less than two years (motorways 110kph rather than 130kph, open roads 80kph rather than 90kph and dual carriageways 100kph rather than 110kph)

Alcohol and driving
Alcohol limits for driver vary slightly from country to country – the best advice is to avoid drink completely if you are driving. As of July 2012, cars must also carry a breathalyzer and it is likely the law will be enforced as of November 2012. These are available on the high street from around £2 and may cost significantly more if bought on the ferry.

Don’t assume your car insurance covers your trip abroad – most policies include basic third party cover for driving in Europe but the only way to be certain of your level of cover is to read your policy or contact your provider.

Medical treatment
Some degree of reduced-cost care is available in most European countries, but the service is not always comprehensive and the cost of repatriation in the event of an emergency is never covered. It’s always best to have a medical insurance or european medical card.

Child seats
If you have young children and are hiring a car abroad, you might consider taking your own child seat with you. It might seem like a hassle, but the seats provided by the car hire company get a lot of use (and abuse) and to make matters worse, if it is a model you are unfamiliar with you may find the local staff unhelpful – they are often told that for reasons of legal liability they are not allowed to fit the seats themselves.

GB sticker
A GB sticker on the back of your car is compulsory wherever you are driving in Europe, unless you have number plates that include the GB euro-symbol. If you have neither of these you could receive an on-the-spot fine.Reflective tabards and warning triangles
France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria and Croatia all require that drivers carry a reflective jacket or tabard for use if the car breaks down.

All cars in Europe must carry a warning triangle, and cars in France must carry a reflective tabbard, replacement bulbs and a first aid kit. The ferry companies will gladly remind you of this and charge around £50 for these items if you buy them onboard – Tesco sells a kit for less than £10.

As of July 2012, cars must also carry a breathalyzer. These are available on the high street from around £2. Again, these are likely to cost significantly more if you buy on the ferry.

You will need to adjust your car’s headlamps to suit driving on the right as failure to do so will dazzle oncoming drivers and could land you with a fine. Headlamp beam converter kits are widely available but Halogen or Xenon headlamps may need adjustment by your dealer.

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Driving Europe

Driving in Europe

Driving Europe Some people are terrified of the very thought of driving in Europe. This fear has been going on for centuries. Honestly-there are accounts of people terrified of Italian horse and buggy drivers and things don’t seem to have changed a whole lot since.

While it’s probably wrong to generalize, I’m going to take a crack at it anyway. Europeans, by and large, drive more aggressively but pay more attention to the road than Americans. Personally, I like this because you can safely figure that the guy in the red Ferrarri is going to race you for the 7 feet you’ve left between you and the BMW ahead of you, and you’ll be right at least 99 percent of the time. Knowing what people are likely to do is half the battle toward automotive safety. The rest is driving skill and paying attention. (In contrast to the above, and as explanation to our European readers of the sometimes bizarre behaviors one sometimes encounters on American roads, I point the gentle reader toward an absolutely hideous movie called L.A. Story, in which 4 drivers pull up to a four-way stop, motion each other to go, and then all crash into each other. In short, European drivers rush to take their right of way, even if they have to take it from someone else, and Americans rush to give it up when they’re not in a hurry–unless they’re going slowly in the left lane of the freeway of course.)

Europeans driving on the autobahns and autostrade, as already noted, tend to do most of their driving in the right lane, using the left one only to pass (except, of course, in Britain, which is a special case entirely.) The person in the left lane isn’t likely to enforce his arbitrarily chosen version of the speed limit on you, even if he’s going 200 km/hour. Chances are, he’ll move over to let you pass, a courtesy infrequently extended to fellow drivers here in the US.

The above is, of course, just my opinion. I love driving in Europe, especially Italy. But then I’ve enjoyed driving at Laguna Seca and Sears Point raceways in flameproof underwear, too. Others less inclined toward the exhilaration that comes from a well-built car at speed have put their crystal-clear assessments about European driving on the web, and we’ve got some links to them, of course.

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Driving in Spain

Driving in Spain? To Not Get Robbed Be Aware of this

Driving in SpainThe Foreign Office is warning drivers of ‘highway pirates’ targetting foreign-registered cars and hire cars, especially those towing caravans. There have been sometimes forceful attempts to make drivers stop, claiming there is something wrong with your car or that you have damaged theirs.

If you stop to check the condition of your vehicle in such a situation, do so only in a well-lit public area such as a service station, and be extremely wary of anyone offering help.

There are also warnings about bogus, plain clothed police officers in unmarked cars. The Foreign Offfice advises that, in all traffic-related matters, police officers will be in uniform, and that all police officers, including those in plain clothes, carry official ID.

A genuine police officer will only ask for your documents – not your bag or wallet – and a genuine unmarked police vehicle will have a flashing sign showing Policia (Police) or Guardia Civil (Civil Guard) in the rear window.

Talk through the car window if you’re in any doubt about your safety and contact the Civil Guard on 062 or Police on 112 and ask them to confirm that the registration number of the vehicle corresponds to an official police vehicle.

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Driving tips long road trips

Driving tips for long road trips

Driving tips long road tripsGoing on a long road trip? Before you go make sure you and your car are prepared. Here are some driving tips for long road trips, better to be safe than sorry.

Before beginning a long drive, always get enough sleep and eat something before you go. Highly caffeinated beverages are not necessarily the best way to stay awake while driving. While initially you will feel more alert, the effects can recede with time, and your attention may wander although you remain awake.

Pull over and take breaks every couple of hours, even if you don’t feel sleepy. Grab a snack, get some fresh air, and stretch your legs by walking around. If you need to, take a quick nap.

If you can, share the driving responsibilities with someone else. This will allow you to keep an eye on each other while driving and also enable you to nap without losing time. If you’re driving alone, turn on the radio or put on some music, and keep your window cracked open. You may also want to refrain from using your cruise control if you’re driving alone at night — having to concentrate on maintaining your speed can help you stay awake.

If you do have to pull over, move your vehicle off the road. Never park on the shoulder or in the breakdown lane for any reason except an emergency.

Search the Web for traffic update sites and listen to radio traffic alerts, especially when approaching major cities. If you don’t have a smartphone, all-news stations on the AM dial are often your best bet.

Not even a GPS unit is infallible, so we recommend bringing a detailed map or road atlas as a backup just in case. A mapping app on your smartphone is another must-have for long road trips.

If you are driving a rental vehicle, familiarize yourself with the car and all of its equipment (horn, brakes, hazard lights). For an amusing but true look at this issue, see The First 10 Minutes of Your Car Rental.

Familiarize yourself with local traffic laws, which vary from state to state and especially overseas. Is it legal to make a right turn at a red light?

Before setting off on a long car trip, be sure your vehicle is in prime condition — that tires are properly inflated, all fluids are at their proper levels and you have a full tank of gas. (For particularly long road trips, you may want to have your mechanic do a more thorough check.)

Consider becoming a member of AAA or signing up for your car insurer’s roadside assistance program. You won’t regret it when your car breaks down on a lonely back road.

Don’t wait until your gas gauge is sitting on E to refuel. On an unfamiliar road, you never know when the next gas station will appear. As soon as you hit a quarter of a tank, start looking for a place to fill up.

When traveling with kids, be sure to stop often — not just for snacks and potty breaks, but also for fun. See a cool playground along the way? Pull over and throw a Frisbee around. You’ll also want to pack toys, books and music for the car — not to mention your motion sickness remedy of choice. For more ideas, see Family Car Travel.

Stock up on snacks and drinks at grocery stores rather than gas stations or convenience stores — you’ll get a wider and healthier selection, as well as better prices. For more advice, see Eating Well and Staying Active.

On longer trips, keep napkins, plasticware and a small cooler handy for meals on the go. You’ll also want some spare change for tolls, as well as a first-aid kit, flashlight, pillow and blanket. Keep a set of jumper cables, a spare tire or donut, and extra fluids for the car (such as windshield wiper fluid) in your trunk.

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