UK: The IAM’s head of driving standards Peter Rodger has highlighted the differences you can expect when hiring a vehicle abroad.
If you’re planning a getaway that involves renting a vehicle make sure you read the following tips to ensure your experience is as stress-free as possible.
- Familiarise yourself with the rules of the road and laws of the country you will be travelling to beforehand. Driving regulations and restrictions will vary from country to country.
- Check the procedures and telephone numbers in case you are involved in an accident or if your car breaks down. Should you commit a serious motoring offence abroad and are arrested the Foreign Office has some useful information about what to do.
- The paper counterpart of the photo card driving licence has been replaced with an online system. The new system allows a car hire firm to check your driving history online for up to 72 hours before you arrive. Learn more.
- When collecting the vehicle inspect it carefully. Look for any signs of wear and tear, damage to the bodywork, interiors, windscreen, wheels and alloy trims. If you spot any damage make sure the renter has marked it accurately on the car hire diagram. And if you’re unsure about anything that compromises the safety of you and your passengers speak to the renter about getting another vehicle.
- Don’t forget to check the boot has compulsory equipment in it, such as a warning triangle, high-visibility jacket, spare bulbs, spare tyre and any other items legally required in the country you are driving in. If you are unsure about anything raise it with the renter promptly.
- If you have one, take your sat-nav with you and programme in your destination before starting your journey. However, make sure you switch off any speed camera information as it is illegal to use in many countries.
- Check which fuel type the car takes and make sure you know the words for diesel and petrol in the country you are driving in.
- If you’re travelling with a passenger ask them to remind you that you’re driving on the right-hand side. Take extra care at junctions – look left first and then right.
- You may be at risk when re-joining the main road after parking your vehicle. Always re-join the main road from the right-side as joining from the left-side could unconsciously revert you to driving on the left. Joining or leaving a dual carriageway may also confuse you – take your time and think about every manoeuvre.
- Driving in a different country will require your full concentration – avoid getting distracted by not even using a hands-free mobile phone and under no circumstances should you drink and drive.
Peter said: “Planning will solve most of the problems you might have before they become problems. Do not assume road rules are the same across Europe or in English speaking countries because they can be different from nation to nation. But you have nothing to fear as long as you are armed with some prior knowledge.”