Over half (52%) of Brits are unaware that they need proof of insurance when driving in Europe, and over a third (36%) don’t know they needed a valid full driving license and ID, according to new research from Sainsbury’s Bank.
The research also found that just 7% of British holidaymakers know the law requires them to have an extra pair of glasses for driving in Spain, and less than a fifth (15%) are aware that they should have a breathalyser in their car at all times when driving in France.
With nearly a third (29%) of travellers planning on driving in Europe (equating to 15 million people), Karen Hogg, head of insurance at Sainsbury’s Bank advises: “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.”
Additionally, research carried out by RAC Europe reveals that more than half (59%) of drivers are not up to date with new driving regulations in France. As of 1 July 2018, the speed limit on France’s D-roads was reduced from 90kph to 80kph (55mph to 50mph). The charges for speeding on these roads could be a penalty of up to €750 (about £670), a fine which can now follow drivers back to the UK under an EU directive.
Meanwhile, just over two in 10 (23%) drivers know that using headphones or earphones while driving in France is illegal, and only 28% know they have to switch off their engines in a designated parking place to use their mobile phone. Failure to comply with these laws can also result in a penalty fine of up to €135 (£120).
RAC European driving spokesperson Rod Dennis adds: “France remains the most popular destination for British drivers, and some changes to driving regulations may come as a surprise to those that regularly cross the Channel by car.
“The French have witnessed a big increase in the number of fatalities on their departmental ‘D’ road network in recent years, and while the decision to cut the speed limit on these roads has been fiercely opposed by some, the law is the law.
“British drivers that have been driving to France for many years on the same roads should pay particular attention to speed limit signs, especially as new rules now mean any traffic offences committed while away follow UK motorists home again – so there really is no escaping them.”