24 May 2016
Driving in Europe? What do You Need to Know?
Two of Brits’ most popular holiday destinations have seen an increase in road traffic accidents. For holidaymakers planning to drive whilst in Europe there are a few things to bear in mind.
We would always suggest to anyone making their way abroad to check what the rules of the roads are before driving overseas. If it’s not something you’ve given much thought to then it may come as a surprise that there are more differences than which side of the road you should drive on.
And, of course, what must be avoided is any kind of surprise once you’re behind the wheel.
1. Alcohol limits. Drinking has a considerable effect on your abilities as a driver. It lowers your awareness and concentration, making it difficult to focus. Recent data revealed that approximately 15 per cent of all deaths from reported road traffic accidents involved at least one driver over the legal alcohol limit. If you are driving abroad, it is wise to know your limits; see our previous blog on drink driving abroad and legal limits.
2. Speed limits. Do you know how fast you should be driving whilst overseas – or perhaps, how slowly you should be going. It has been estimated that for every one mile per hour reduction in average speeds, crash rates fall by an average of five per cent. Speeding laws should be obeyed no matter where you are driving. Before driving abroad you should check whether the limits are lower than you’re used to on UK roads.
3. Which side of the road? This is definitely one to look up before you go, but if you’re a little unsure about driving on the other side of the road, read some of our tips here.
4. Weird and wonderful traffic laws. We would hope that not driving blindfolded is obvious enough, whether or not you knew there is a law specifically against it in Alabama, USA. There are other laws around the world that you might not have thought of and could result in an unexpected charge, such as driving barefoot in Germany or keeping a breathalyser in your car at all times in France. Find out more foreign road laws here.
France was recently in the news because of a 14 per cent rise in the number of deaths caused by reckless driving. In 2015, 3,464 people were killed in road traffic accidents in France. Campaigners demanding lower speed limits on French roads have cited recklessness and bad habits, including distractions, as causes for the rise.
Elsewhere in Europe, the number of fatal traffic accidents in Greece has increased by nine in 2015 – the first rise in 18 years according to research by the Technical University of Crete. The study suggested that the road systems on several islands did not support the heavy tourist traffic, with many locals renting cars and motor scooters to people without a driver’s license.
Driving overseas is not necessarily dangerous, but driving recklessly and without knowledge of the local laws is certainly a risk that should be considered the same as when driving in the UK.
Can You Claim For an Overseas Road Traffic Accident in the UK?
Many people are unaware that you can claim for a road traffic accident in Europe once back home in the UK. European regulations and rulings mean that you can take action against a European insurer in English or Welsh courts. This means you benefit from the English rules and have more understanding of the processes and timescales involved in bringing a case.
For more information read my previous blog here.
Joanne Berry is a principal lawyer within the travel litigation team at Slater and Gordon in Manchester.
For a consultation or legal advice concerning an accident or illness abroad, our No Win, No Fee Solicitors can help you with your claim for compensation.
Call us on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online. From outside the UK please call +44 20 7657 1555.