Driving In Europe – What You Need To Know
The obvious difference between driving in Ireland and in other countries on mainland Europe is they drive on the right side of the road while we drive on the left. There are other things that you should be aware of too. These include specific legal issues plus ways to prepare to ensure you stay safe, and have plans in place if anything goes wrong.
Before You Go
Before your trip, make sure to contact your car insurance provider to check that you are fully covered in the countries you are travelling to. It is also worthwhile checking with your breakdown provider. The last thing you want is to have a mechanical problem with your car while away and having to deal with it all yourself.
You should also check if the countries that you are driving in require you to do anything with your headlights. This usually involves attaching headlight converters so that your headlights don’t dazzle oncoming traffic. You can buy converters at ferry terminals but you might get a cheaper price if you buy it in advance from a local supplier or on the internet.
When driving in Europe you also have to display the IRL national identification on your car, but your registration plate should have this already.
Finally, make sure your car is serviced and your tyres are in good condition.
What You Need To Bring
Make sure you bring or save in your phone any numbers that you might need while driving in Europe. This includes the number of your insurance provider and breakdown cover.
Other things you should bring with you include:
- Driving licence (you can also bring an International Driving Permit if you have one)
- Vehicle Registration Certificate
- Proof of insurance
What You Need To Carry
It is a legal requirement in most European countries to carry a warning triangle in your car, so make sure you have one before setting off.
Apart from that it is best to check the legal requirements of the country you are visiting, as many insist that you carry other items or equipment. For example, you must have a reflective jacket in your car if driving in Belgium, a first aid kit in Croatia, and a breathalyser kit in France (which is a legal requirement, although no fine is imposed if you don’t have one).
Other Things To Remember
You should also familiarise yourself with local driving laws in the countries you will be visiting, and don’t forget to pay any tolls – failure to do so can result in substantial fines.
Another thing you should check is the law regarding children sitting in the front passenger seat. In some countries children under 12 are not allowed to sit in the front. The same applies to children under 1.5 metres in height. Other countries, however, allow children to sit in the front if there is an approved restraint system.
Most European countries issue on the spot fines for breaches of their driving laws, so it is always best to plan in advance and find out what is required.