Top Tips for Driving in Europe

by - 5:56:00 AM

Earlier this year, the French government mandated that drivers of all motor vehicles and motorcycles must carry a breathalyzer on board. This new requirement is aimed at reducing road deaths caused by drunk driving, with the idea that drivers who suspect they might be over the limit should test themselves with a breathalyzer kit. Any driver found without a breathalyzer in a vehicle after March 1, 2013 will be subject to a small fine. This guide from PassSmart tells motorists everything they need to know about driving regulations in Europe.

The breathalyzer is the latest in a series of equipment that is absolutely required for any driver looking to travel abroad in their own vehicle. Here are a few tips that'll not only keep you from getting fined, but they'll also help you stay safe on the open road.

- Make sure your vehicle has a reflective jacket or tabard for use in the event of a breakdown. France, Italy, Spain and Portugal are just a few of the many countries throughout the EU that require these safety items in your vehicle.

- Have replacement bulbs on hand, as well as a first aid kit. These items are not yet mandatory, but they are handy to have in the event of an emergency.

- All vehicles originating from the UK must have a "GB" sticker located on the back of the vehicle, or a number plate that includes the "GB" symbol. Without either one, you could wind up with an on-the-spot fine.

- Take your own child seat with you if you're traveling with young children and hiring a car abroad. The child seats provided by the car hire company might not be in the best shape, plus you'll already know how your child seat works. Keep in mind that the car hire company won't be able to help you with the seats due to legal liability.

- Remember that the headlight beam pattern must be adjusted to suit driving on the right. This avoids the possibility of the dipped beam dazzling oncoming drivers. It's best to learn how to adjust the beam pattern as early as possible, since different vehicles have different lighting systems and ways of adjusting the lights.

- Don't forget your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Available at no charge, this card is a must if you're traveling to a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland. With this card, you can receive reduced-cost or, in some cases, free medical treatment. It helps to have travel insurance in addition to this card, since transportation back to the UK in the event of illness or death is not covered by the EHIC.

Don't forget to have all of your important documents with you before you set off on your journey. These documents include the following:

- A valid full driving license (with a paper counterpart, if necessary)

- Original vehicle registration

- Motor insurance certificate

- Passport

Lastly, be safe, have fun, and don’t forget your camera

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