Some Top Tips for Driving Abroad

With the summer beckoning, it’s good to think about any preparations you need to make if you are planning to drive abroad.  The IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) has some simple guidelines to make your driving safe and more relaxing.

-   In Europe, driving on the right hand side of the road will seem strange at first so concentrate all the time you are driving. Tiredness is always a problem on a long journey, but is a particular issue if you are not used to driving on the “other” side of the road.

- Say "Think Right - Look Left" to yourself every time you start to drive or approach a roundabout or road junction. This will put you in the right place on the road, travelling in the direction of the traffic flow and looking in the direction from where the first danger is most likely to come.

- Make sure you know the rules of the road in the country that you are in and obey them.  Many rules and traffic regulations will be the same as in the UK, but some countries do have particular rules and regulations, and they may have changed since you were last there.  For example, Germany now has Low Emission Zones which applies to cars as well as commercial vehicles.   Make sure that you understand the meaning of all road signs and obey them. Most of them will be familiar to you, and the meaning of those that are not is usually fairly obvious. Remember the general rule: triangles warn, circles prohibit and rectangles inform.  Check before you start your journey from the UK to  make life easier for yourself.

-  In most European countries, it is a legal requirement that drivers carry a red warning triangle in case of breakdown or accident.  A recent article in Fleet News pointed out that some local officials in Spain demand a second warning triangle.  Again, check before you go.

-  Don’t fall into local habits if they are risky, such as following very close to vehicles in front at speed.  It’s too easy to fall into “holiday mode” and stop paying attention.

-  Overtaking is a difficult and potentially dangerous manoeuvre. You must always be sure overtaking is going to be safe. Driving a right-hand drive car on the "other" side of the road means you are not in the best position to see ahead. Always remember, the decision to overtake is yours: do not rely on the judgement of the passenger in the front seat.

26 April 2008 Staff

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