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Have You Been Breaking The Law on Holiday?

For anyone headed overseas, this is advice worth reading before setting off as a quarter of British drivers admit to breaking the law while driving abroad.

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With only one in five travellers bothering to look up the differences in laws before getting behind the wheel overseas, it’s no wonder that the hefty fines you may  potentially face come as a surprise to 20 per cent of holidaymakers. But much worse than that is when our clients are involved in accidents abroad which were simply down to other people’s misjudgement or stupidity. Many of these accidents are very nasty and have a long lasting effect on the clients’ lives.

The travel litigation team at Slater and Gordon surveyed 1,800 drivers who had driven abroad, revealing the extent to which Brits are risking their lives and licence when on holiday.

More than half of all surveyed drivers said they didn’t have any concerns about breaking foreign driving laws and 60 per cent admitted to falling foul of confusing road signs.


Foreign Driving Laws You Are Probably Breaking Without Knowing

So what are the top 10 offences made when driving abroad?

  1. Speeding
  2. Driving on the wrong side of the road
  3. Not having a breathalyser kit in the car
  4. Not carrying a high visibility jacket in the car
  5. Not having all the right documentation i.e. both parts of your driving licence
  6. If you wear glasses or contact lenses- not carrying a spare set while driving
  7. Missing a warning triangle sign
  8. Texting while driving
  9. Driving while speaking on a mobile phone (not hands free)
  10. Drink driving


The most common laws broken year-on-year are speeding (18 per cent), driving on the wrong side of the road (15 per cent) and failure to have a breathalyser kit in the car (14 per cent).

One of the most shocking findings of our research was that one in ten drivers revealed they are most likely to risk drink driving while out of the country. This ‘what happens on holiday stays on holiday’ attitude may apply to many things, but where road safety is involved it is inexcusable. You wouldn’t risk drink driving at home or letting someone else who has been drinking drive you, so why take the risk abroad?


What if You Are Involved in an Accident?

Breaking the law has seen one in ten drivers slapped with a fine, according to our study, but the consequences of flouting road rules while overseas may have much severer consequences, as we often see from clients that have been involved in an accident.

It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed in the event of a road traffic accident abroad – or even at home in the UK, for that matter. You’re in an unknown place and if you weren’t aware of the way the overseas roads worked before the accident, you will be after. Many people are unaware that in the event of an accident you may pursue legal action back home in England and Wales.   



It’s imperative you treat the foreign legal systems with even more respect than UK law as you’re less familiar of the rules.

 Just taking five minutes to read up on local laws can mean the difference between a pleasant get-away in the sun or an on-going court battle.

For more information on our study, please see: A Quarter of British Drivers Admit to Breaking the Law While Driving Abroad

If you are injured in a car accident abroad and would like free legal advice on claiming personal injury compensation, Slater and Gordon offer 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.

Kieran Mitchell is a senior associate specialising in travel and international litigation at Slater and Gordon lawyers in London.

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