Brits are heading for a summer of fines, arrests and accidents in Europe as they fail to comply with the rules and regulations of driving abroad suggests new research from AXA Insurance. The BA strikes and volcanic ash disruption have led many Brits to re-think their holiday plans with an estimated 1.1 million saying they’ll drive to their holiday destination abroad this summer rather than rely on air travel.
However, when it comes to some of the most basic requirements of driving abroad, there seems to be a lot of confusion among motorists with a third (33%) admitting they don’t know whether a GB sticker is needed and a further 24% wrongly stating that it isn’t. And nearly half (49%) were unsure whether their car insurance covered them for driving abroad with 23% making the potentially disastrous assumption that it does.
The research also tested specific statements relating to driving abroad, the results of which showed widespread ignorance and confusion as to what is permissible:
· 40% believe it is legal to jump a red light in Italy providing nothing is coming. It may be that driving myth suggests Italians do this all the time but it is in fact, illegal.
· 37% believe it is legal to overtake on either side of the motorway in Portugal – in fact, you must only overtake on the left.
· 41% responded that it was true that you couldn’t use your horn in Spain on a Sunday, but no such restriction exists.
· Nearly a quarter (22%) wrongly stated there was no need to carry a reflective jacket and red triangle in your car in France, while 48% incorrectly believe that you must carry a petrol can and windscreen wash in Spain.
· 54% stated that there was no speed limit on German motorways – which is true in that there is no upper limit. However vehicles with a top speed of less than 61kpm are not allowed.
· 81% believe that there is a zero drink-drive allowance in Switzerland which, while incorrect, is potentially a positive if it means Brits abroad will keep their alcohol consumption down.
· However, on the negative side 35% believe that it’s OK to use a mobile phone when driving in Holland
· 62% think a green card is necessary for driving in Belgium – inside the EU this is no longer a requirement.
Craig Staniland, AXA Insurance director for motor says: “While some of the misconceptions we have about driving abroad are amusing, there are some very serious misunderstandings that could lead to breaking the law or a serious accident. Both Eurotunnel and the ferry operators have seen a significant increase in bookings over the last few weeks and we would advise any Brits taking their car abroad to spend some time making sure they understand any local regulations and checking they have adequate insurance in place should the worst happen.”