Twenty-five years ago it was considered quite adventurous for a British driver to require his car on holiday on the continent, but nowadays over a 3rd of Britain’s motorists have experienced the pleasures of driving abroad. If you retain off the busy trunk roads, autoroutes, autostradas and autobahns, you’ll follow quiet highways which carry much less traffic than you always find on our crowded island.
There’s no reason why a competent driver shouldn’t feel perfectly confident when driving in an unfamiliar country, on the incorrect side of the road. Even busy cities like Paris and Rome — with their reputation for devil-may-care traffic — should hold no fears as long as you follow the essential rules of advanced driving.
Just like any other aspect of advanced driving, you ought to plan ahead to form the most of a continental holiday, or maybe a business trip. once you have selected your destination, buy the acceptable large-scale road maps from any good bookshop. The Michelin series, which cover the whole of Europe, are among the best, and these also are now available as high-quality atlases of France or Europe, published by Hamlin. If you’re during a hurry you’ll be forced to use motorways, but remember that tolls are charged to use those in France, Switzerland and Italy. If you’ve got time, it’s far more enjoyable to plan a leisurely journey on quieter roads.
A good way of planning a route is to draw a pencil line on the map between your ferry arrival port and your destination, then ink during a route along roads — choosing many secondary roads if your journey time allows it running on the brink of the pencil line. Your passengers will got to play their part in navigation, but this will increase the pleasure of the journey for them. Choosing smaller roads will force you to allow longer for the trip, but it’ll provide a pleasant and more relaxing thanks to see the country, and your passengers will definitely appreciate driving through a more attractive landscape.
In addition to maps, you’ll need guide books to inform you about places of interest and where to remain , but make use also of the free brochures and leaflets which the tourist information centers in most large continental towns can provide. you’ll even be ready to obtain useful information before you allow on your holiday by contacting the London office of the acceptable national tourist board.
RAC or AA members can make travel arrangements through these organizations, which supply particularly good insurance packages to require care of your car’s return to Britain if you’re unlucky enough to suffer a serious breakdown. it might be worth removing insurance to hide health care and theft, regardless of how remote these possibilities could seem. As far as normal car insurance cares, you ought to tell your insurer or broker where you’re going and arrange a positive identification. Your normal insurance arrangements (fully comprehensive if you’ve got any sense) should be extended to hide you while you’re abroad. Extra cover isn’t legally required when traveling in EC countries, but the basic cover provided automatically may be a bare minimum. you’ll have enough to stress about within the unfortunate event of an accident or breakdown abroad without having the additional headache of the value.
Differences to watch for
The moment once you chase away the ferry and into another country is usually exciting. initially you’ll keep reminding yourself to drive on the proper, and multi-lingual warning signs along the road leaving the ferry terminal will reinforce your awareness. this could make sure that you get wont to driving on the right side of the road without mishap for the primary few miles; but the difficulty can come later once you have gained some experience and feel more confident. it’s only too easy, when there’s no traffic to remind you, to forget momentarily that you simply must drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. The time to get on your guard is whenever you stop the car, particularly if you are doing so on the left-hand side of the road. it’s going to seem quite natural to return out of a store or filling station, get within the car and depart up the road on the left.
Apart from the self-evident incontrovertible fact that you drive on the opposite side, most continental traffic rules are an equivalent as British ones — with one important exception which we shall examine during a moment. Traffic signs present no worries because Britain way back adopted the international pattern, and you’ll decipher the few local peculiarities by using sense and a touch imagination. In France, you would possibly see a red warning triangle sign bearing the silhouette of a frog: yes, it means you want to watch out for frogs on the road, because the surface are going to be slippery if large numbers are squashed by traffic.
The yellow headlights fitted to French cars are required by law on all French-registered vehicles, but visitors may use their ordinary white lights. Before heading to any country, however, you must have the right-hand bias of your dipped beam masked by fitting the adhesive shapes available from accessory shops. do that even if you do not expect to be driving darkly, because even the best-laid plans can fail. If you neglect to do this, you’ll end up ‘flashed’ by dazzled oncoming drivers because your dipped headlights will look as if they’re on main beam.
Apart from now , your car needs no more preparation than it requires for the other long journey. confirm the list of European dealers supplied when the car was new remains in your glove box, and check out to get a book which lists common motoring terms if you’ll be struggling with language within the event of a breakdown. Have your car serviced before you allow if one are going to be due while you’re away. Although a red warning triangle is recommended to be used in Britain, you want to take one when traveling abroad. it’s an honest idea to require some basic spares, like lamp bulbs, fuses and a lover or alternator belt, also as a plastic emergency windscreen. and eventually , remember your GB plate !
- Plan ahead as far as possible so that you have a good idea of your route before you leave home.
- Once your initial wariness about driving on the right has disappeared, it is easy to forget momentarily that you are abroad; be especially careful not to drive away on the left after a short stop at a filling station or shop.
- Always be alert to the dangers of the priority to the right rule when driving in France.
- Use common sense and imagination to decipher any unfamiliar road signs; make sure you know the speed limits for the countries you visit.
- Do not think that ignorance of the law will ever be accepted as an excuse by continental policemen.