Driving in Europe: 10 rules to know

Traffic rules differ from country to country, so if you are visiting a new place, it is important to know the laws that apply there. For instance, driving under the influence is a criminal offence in all jurisdictions but the permitted intoxication levels may differ. Same goes for speed limits.

The following are some of the rules that you must know if you planning to drive in a European country.

Documentation

First off, you need to ensure that you have all the documentation that is needed in the country you are visiting. This includes your driving license, international driving permit if necessary, your vehicle’s registration documents, auto insurance documents, and travel insurance among other documents. Remember to carry your driving license at all times.

Driving under the influence

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While laws on driving under the influence vary greatly from place to place in terms of intoxication limits, it is safe to completely avoid drunk driving as this can land you in serious trouble. In fact, some countries do not tolerate drunk driving at all. You can end up paying a hefty fine, being banned from driving in the country or even being imprisoned.

Speed limits

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Speed limits usually vary slightly from place to place; it is, therefore, important to find out the speed limits in the country you plan to visit so that you are always on the safe side. You should never at any given point assume that no one is watching you; there are all sorts of devices in use today that can detect even the smallest traffic offences.

GB sticker

You should always have a GB (Great Britain) sticker on your windscreen. If the car you are driving has euro-plates, you will not be required to have a GB sticker in EU countries and a few other countries outside the EU. However, it is safe to always have the sticker, especially if you are visiting a country outside the EU.

Equipment

In some countries, the law requires that you always have safety equipment, including a safety triangle, a first aid kit, and snow chains during winter. You also need to have enough reflective jackets for all your passengers. While this is not compulsory in many places, it is good practice to always have safety equipment with you.

Low emission zones

The car you are driving must meet the country’s emission standards, otherwise, it will not be allowed into the country.

Mobile Phones

In most European countries, it is illegal to use a mobile device while driving, so avoid this at all costs.

Seat Belts

The laws in most places require you and your passengers to buckle up at all times. If you are travelling with children, you should also find out what the law says about child restraints. The laws of some countries require that children aged 12 and under use a child seat.

Tyres

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Find out whether you need to change your vehicle’s tyres before visiting a country. In some places, there are special tyres for winter and you must have those during winter.

Camera and speed trap devices

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It is illegal to have any such devices in many European countries, even if they are deactivated. The penalties for such offences are severe.

Conclusion

The first few days of driving in a new country may be tricky because of differences in things like the side of the road you will be driving on and road markings and traffic signs among other things. There are also things that may not necessarily be law but are generally an accepted practice, for example, overtaking practices and how drivers signal each other. All these take some time to get used to, and it would help a great deal if you familiarised yourself with the road practices in the country you are planning to visit before you get there.


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