by Ashleigh-Rose Harman,
Europe has fantastic interconnecting railways and roads, making it a perfect continent to travel within. Moving from country to country is seamless, with just an interchanging train or a stop at a motorway toll – only small distractions in your ability to absorb as much culture from such a varied range of countries as possible.
However, along with such variation in tradition and culture, comes a variation in law and in particular road law. European roads allow you to swerve between countries easily and at your own pace. However, the road laws can change dramatically from country to country. Below I have put together a few important road rules to remember when exploring, that will keep you out of trouble with any authorities. Because let’s be honest, not much is scarier than a brush with the law in a country where you can’t speak the language.
1. Hire companies can come with hefty prices, and many hidden costs in extra insurance and fuel consumption, not to mention charges for wear and tear on the car. If you plan to travel for more than two weeks, it can be more economical to invest in a car lease rather than a hire car. Tilsun who are experts in contract hire deals, explains that with a lease you are provided with better insurance options. Your car will be fully insured so you have peace of mind and no sky-high costs, even if someone drives into you. The idea has taken off in France with many companies offering to ship leased vehicles all over the continent, so you can start your travels wherever you wish.
2. If you do decide to start your travels in France you need to make sure you are carrying a government-approved breathalyzer in your car, without it you risk an on the spot fine. This applies to international cars as well, so there are no excuses. Breathalyzers can be easily picked up in most fuel stations across the country, or if you hire or lease a car, you can ask your dealer to make sure the car is provided with one.
3. If you move on to Belgium, you will find the road rules very different. In some places cyclists are allowed to cycle in both directions on the roads, this should be indicated by road signs so you will be provided with some sort of warning. Another rule to remember is that it is legal to turn into oncoming traffic in Belgium. If you arrive at a crossroads, as long as you don’t slow down or stop, it is perfectly legal to keep driving. As in all countries where you are not experienced on their roads, drive slowly and keep aware of everything around you, to help avoid an accident.
4. Most Sat Nav and GPS systems brought on the continent can be used across all countries. However, the majority of European countries have a ban on any devices that detect speed cameras. Make sure you switch of your points of interest function on any GPS system used because if caught you could face a hefty fine.
5. Italy is famed for its ancient architecture and beautiful towns and cities, and the tourist presence in such areas is huge. In an attempt to keep congestion out of these picturesque cities, Italian authorities have introduced a scheme where you must acquire a permit to drive around these historic centers, failure to produce a permit will result in a fine. This is particularly important to remember when driving around Florence, as prohibited and public roads intertwine at several points across the city.
Driving in any foreign country can be daunting and crossing several countries in as many days, can become confusing, especially when you are tired. If in doubt slow down, get plenty of rest and if you can, assure there are two drivers so the pressure is not always on one person. But most importantly enjoy your travels, Europe is one of the busiest, most exciting continents on the earth, keep your eyes up, don’t miss a thing!