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Holiday Car Hire: Tips for Driving Abroad on the Other Side of the Road

Many people will have already booked their summer holidays but may now be thinking of added extras such as car hire.

A recent study revealed that 27% of UK drivers admitted to being afraid of driving on the other side of the road. The research was commissioned by travel website Skyscanner who last year introduced the first ever left-hand driving school in London, aimed at familiarising UK drivers with foreign road signs and giving practical advice on how to navigate roundabouts. 

We often read news stories about accidents involving drivers who have driven on the wrong side of the road. In September last year, a Croatian lorry driver caused a head-on crash on a Welsh A-road after “forgetting he was in Britain”. 

With many people from the UK expected to hire a car on holiday this year, we thought we’d look at some tips on what to do if you’re hiring a car for your holiday this year and need to drive on the ‘other side of the road’. 

Hire from a reputable company. Also ensure that breakdown cover is included as part of your rental agreement and that you check the car thoroughly before you go. 

Take your documents with you. As well as your driving licence you should also take another form of identification such as a passport, together with a valid credit card. Take actual documents as many hire companies don’t accept photocopies. Many car rental companies recommend you carry an International Driving Permit (IDP). This is written in 10 languages and allows you to drive a car in over 150 countries when accompanied by your driving licence. 

Know the driving laws of the country you are visiting. Skyscanner’s research found that 36% of UK drivers who hire cars abroad don’t research the driving laws of their holiday destination. You should get to know the driving laws of the country where you are going on holiday. For example, did you know that smoking whilst driving is illegal in Greece? Or that in Spain you can be fined for driving in flip-flops? 

Don't drink and drive. Permitted driver alcohol limits vary from country to country. Some countries have a zero tolerance on drink driving and a policy of immediate imprisonment. To reduce the risk of a serious holiday accident it’s recommended not to drink and drive at all. 

Know about any unique driving styles. Some countries have driving customs that are very different from those in the UK. For example, drivers in Spain often flash their lights to warn the driver ahead that they are going to overtake. 

Know the emergency numbers of the country you’re visiting. Also pack a phrase book as phrases such as ‘police’, ‘ambulance’, ‘broken’ or ‘accident’ might come in handy. 

You can also read the official UK Government advice on driving in Europe if you are hiring a car on the continent this year. 

If you are injured in a car accident on holiday you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. You should also complete a European Accident Statement (or ‘Constat Amiable’) and call the police. Take photographs of the accident scene including registration numbers and, if you are going to pursue a holiday accident compensation claim, you should get a medical report from the clinic or hospital where you received treatment. 

Kieran Mitchell is a Travel and International Litigation Associate at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.

If you are injured in a car accident abroad and would like free legal advice on claiming personal injury compensation, call us 24/7 for a free consultation on freephone 0800 916 9046 or  on +44 20 7657 155 if you are calling from outside the UK. Alternatively contact us online and let us know when and where to call you. 

Slater and Gordon Lawyers are a leading personal injury law firm with more than 1,450 staff in 18 offices across London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Halifax, Newcastle, Wakefield, Merseyside, Derby and meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire and in Hull, Yorkshire.

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