Monday, December 17, 2012

Driving Whilst In Other Countries

Brought to you by our friends at Thompsons Scotland solicitors

Renting a car abroad is often an exciting and enjoyable experience, allowing you to fully appreciate your chosen holiday destination.  Very few countries require additional driver training to accustom them to the changed laws and roads, meaning that a lot of drivers will be on the road without understanding and experience of the local conditions.  There are a few things that Thompsons Scotland solicitors can do to prepare ourselves for driving in a foreign country.

Reading Up On Laws
Each country has its own specific set of laws and customs on the road, some of which are enforceable by the authorities and some of which are seen as required etiquette.  You’ll want to be revising the local speed limits and which side of the road to drive on, at the very least.  We are all very familiar with signage from our own country and can instantly recognise the meaning of signs which don’t have instructions or text on them, but the imagery can differ hugely between countries and you need to familiarise yourself with what they represent. 

Some countries like Germany have additional requirements concerning the vehicle themselves.  It can be illegal to drive in winter months without having specialist winter tyres fitted to your vehicles and in some countries it is illegal to drive with tinted windows or certain exhaust systems.  Most of these will be covered by rental companies, but you should always check beforehand.

One of the most important things to consider is your insurance coverage as an existing driver.  Contact your insurance broker and find out whether you’re covered for incidents in foreign countries.  Even if you are, you may need to pay additional fees to include breakdown cover and any motoring related injuries sustained.
Licensing laws can vary across borderlines.  In some countries your UK license might be sufficient but in others you may need a provisional local license or even an international driving permit. 

Vigilance and Awareness
You may need to revisit your driving style that works so well in the UK, cultures can define the characteristics of driving in foreign countries.  It’s much safer to adopt a defensive style of driving whilst abroad as you won’t be familiar with local customs and road etiquette.  Try to avoid drinking (even lightly) if you’re going to drive, unfamiliar alcohol and different tolerances may land you in trouble with the law unexpectedly.  Displaying the correct stickers on your car is important to let others know that you’re not a local driver, which may make all the difference in them staying aware, being more patient or giving you more room on the road. In the unlikely event that you are injured whilst driving abroad, consider getting in touch with a no win no fee lawyer to make a claim if it wasn’t your fault.

Byline:   This article was a guest post from Thompsons Scotland solicitors.

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