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Stay on the right side of the law: European road rules all motorists should know

by LLB Reporter
21st Sep 23 7:21 am

Holidaymakers planning European road trips this summer have been warned about the major driving laws and etiquette differences between countries, as hundreds get caught out each year.

Travel insurance comparison experts at Quotezone.co.uk have researched the eight crucial driving differences across Europe, to avoid being caught out on the road trip of a lifetime.

Driving holidays and road trips are experiencing a rise in popularity, with 52% of holidaymakers choosing to hire a car when on holiday.

Of those who choose not to hire a vehicle, 25% say the reason is because they are unsure of driving rules and laws at their holiday destination.

Motorists risk penalties such as large fines, penalty points and even driving bans for breaking the law while in Europe.

This is something that happens regularly to those travelling in and out of various European countries – to help increase border road safety.

Many travelling across Europe will naturally think to drive on the same side of the road as they do at home – but this could be a dangerous mistake to make: Cyprus, Malta, Ireland and the UK all use the left hand side.

Drivers also need to be aware of the significantly high number of toll roads along Europe’s roads whilst taking both long and short trips – come prepared with the correct currency to avoid getting caught out.

Greg Wilson, CEO and Founder of Quotezone.co.uk said, “There are some seriously breath-taking views across Europe, and with it now easier to hire out cars whilst abroad, it’s no wonder we’re seeing an increase in road trip vacations allowing holidaymakers to visit multiple countries in just one holiday.

“And with many planning a road trip in Europe this summer, we are urging travellers to be aware of the number of driving differences.

“Roads across Europe can be tricky to navigate and have a high volume of speed cameras so it’s crucial to stick to the speed limit and approach unfamiliar aspects with caution.

“A European road trip will be an incredible experience, but you must be aware of the wide range of driving differences abroad.

“Stay safe, do your research before you set off to avoid driving illegally and being issued with large fines.”

Quotezone.co.uk warns of the five laws you must know before driving in Europe:

  1. Driving on the correct side of the road

It is important to make sure you understand the road etiquette of each country when driving around Europe, as the side of the road switches depending on which country you are in. In the majority of European countries, drivers must remain on the right side of the road. The exceptions to this rule are the UK, Malta, Cyprus and Ireland.

  1. Legal driving age

It’s important to remember that for the majority of countries in Europe, the minimum legal driving age is 18. Countries with different rules are the UK, Germany and Italy, where the minimum driving age is 17.

  1. Smoking and driving

Smokers need to be aware of the European countries which enforce laws against smoking in the car with any passengers, including minors. Countries include Cyprus, Greece, Poland, Italy, France, Ireland, Belgium, Denmark and Austria.

  1. Honking your horn

There are certain countries which restrict the use of the horn. In Finland, drivers only ever honk their horn if they are in immediate danger. In Cyprus, drivers must restrict honking their horn near hospitals and in residential areas. In Vienna, honking your horn is also generally prohibited around hospitals. Make sure to check the road rules in each country before heading off on your trip.

  1. Be aware of toll roads

Make sure to have your bank card to hand and also cash in the correct currency as some booths are known for only accepting coins.  It also helps when you’re planning your route to check ahead for tolls so you don’t get taken by surprise.

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