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A Quarter of British Drivers Admit to Breaking the Law While Driving Abroad

A Quarter of British Drivers Admit to Breaking the Law While Driving Abroad

Millions of Brits break the law when driving abroad every year as they find foreign road signs confusing.

Millions of Brits break the law when driving abroad every year as they find foreign road signs confusing.

New research has shown that nearly a quarter have a blasé attitude towards rules on foreign roads with just one in five bothering to learn the laws in advance of getting behind the wheel.

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

The study follows the recent EU rule change which means British drivers can now be fined for the first time when caught by a speed camera in Europe, demonstrating how important it is to read the rule book before getting in the driving seat. Previously, drivers could only be fined for speeding abroad when caught on the road or if their details were available because they hired the car.

Over half of all surveyed drivers (51 percent) said they didn’t have any concerns about breaking foreign driving laws and 60 percent admit to falling foul of confusing road signs.

Shockingly, over one in five parent motorists (22 percent) admit to putting their child’s life at risk by breaking the seat belt laws. However, nearly half of parents from London who have driven abroad (43 percent) admit they have not complied with foreign seat belt laws with 10 percent adding they were too relaxed to worry about it.

One in ten of all drivers revealed they are more likely to risk drink driving while out of the country.

It seems that gender also plays a part with male motorists tending to let their standards slip because they ‘forget’, opposed to female drivers who felt ‘rules are not as strict abroad.’

One in five hapless licence holders also revealed they had no idea they were risking a hefty fine after failing to learn the rules of the road before getting behind the wheel.

The decision landed ten percent in hot water after their neglect led to an accident. Although half of those involved in an accident accepted full responsibility, openly declaring it was their fault.

Over half of drivers (51 percent) also said they are more likely to break the law abroad because differing rules apply.

It seems some drivers (6 percent) live by the moto ‘what happens on holiday- stays on holiday’ and a further six percent said adhering to the law ‘doesn’t seem to matter as much because the roads are quieter’.

The research carried out by law firm Slater and Gordon, which surveyed 1,800 drivers who had driven abroad, revealed the extent to which Brits are risking their lives and licence.

Breaking the law has seen one in ten drivers slapped with a fine, of which 16 percent tried to ignore before eventually paying.

Kieran Mitchell, Specialist Travel Lawyer from Slater and Gordon, said: “Getting behind the wheel on foreign roads without reading up on the relevant laws is a huge risk, particularly when you are driving with your family.

“It’s really important you are aware of the speeding laws, check the child seatbelt laws and load your car up with the correct and necessary equipment before setting off.

“Being ignorant of the law is not only a danger to yourself but everyone else on the road. Within a matter of seconds a simple error could become a real danger.”

A laissez faire five percent would risk injuring themselves and others by getting behind the wheel after taking drugs.

Kieran Mitchell, Slater and Gordon, added: “We have assisted numerous clients who have been 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. 

“You wouldn’t risk drink driving at home or letting someone else who has been drinking drive you, so why take the risk abroad?

“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.”

Of those surveyed 14 percent estimated they have broken at least two laws while driving on holiday abroad.

But despite the law breaking, three quarters of the 1,800 drivers who have driven abroad feel they are clued up on laws relating to driving on foreign roads.

Top 10 mistakes made by 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