Ignorance of Europe driving laws rife among road-trippers, Sainsbury’s Bank warns

Nearly three in ten UK residents (29 per cent) heading to Europe on holiday will be getting behind the wheel, equating to 15 million people embarking on European road trips in the next 12 months. While the majority of them are organised when it comes to their car insurance on the continent, new research from Sainsbury’s Bank reveals that many are unaware of specific driving laws in Europe.

Nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) of travellers planning on driving in Europe will arrange their insurance at least six months before they travel. A further 64 per cent know they need a valid full driving license and ID, and nearly half (48 per cent) know proof of insurance is required for driving in Europe. However holidaymakers are less clued-up when it comes to the driving rules related to some of the most popular holiday destinations.

While the top three countries for driving holidays are Spain (28 per cent), France (27 per cent) and Italy (11 per cent), just 7 per cent of holidaymakers know that the law requires you to have an extra pair of glasses for driving in Spain. Less than a fifth (15 per cent) are aware that in France a breathalyser kit should be in their car at all times.

When it comes to breakdown cover in Europe, nearly half of Brits (49 per cent) say it’s important and already have it in place, while 24 per cent say they don’t consider it to be important.

Karen Hogg, head of Insurance at Sainsbury’s Bank said: “Before setting out on a road trip over the summer months, we’d encourage drivers to firstly check with their insurers that they are covered overseas, and then to brush up on their local motoring knowledge so they don’t get caught out.”

Sainsbury says “Our Comprehensive Car Insurance has been awarded a 5-Star Rating by Defaqto, the independent financial research company.  It covers driving in Europe, as well as the Third Party and Fire and Theft insurance policies. The Bank also offers customers optional extra RAC breakdown cover in Europe.

Sainsbury’s Bank offers the following tips for European road trips:

  • Check all your documents: well ahead of your holiday make sure that you check not only your car insurance, but that other documents such as licenses, passports and International Driving Permits will be valid for the dates of your travel. That way if anything is due to expire, you have enough time to arrange new documents.
  • Insurance: call your car insurer before you leave to check whether you have comprehensive cover abroad and if required, upgrade your policy to include this.
  • Local laws: find out exactly what equipment you will need to carry with you in order to comply with local motoring laws. This might include anything from a first aid kit to a warning triangle and will differ from country to country.
  • Get a tune up before the trip: do some basic checks on your car to help minimise the risk of breakdowns or accidents, e.g. check tyre pressures, oil, brake fluid and water levels.
  • Learn the local language: knowing some handy phrases may help you if you need assistance on the road, such as directions to the nearest petrol station.
  • Route: plan your route in advance and carry a map and/or satnav.
  • Take your time: set a realistic timescale and take plenty of breaks. Driving on busy and unfamiliar roads abroad can be stressful so consider planning your route to avoid the centre of major cities if this is a concern.
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