Holiday Travelling

Tips for driving in France, Germany, Spain, Italy & UK

Get an eyeful of the driving rules for  France

Road safety charity the IAM is offering weekly motoring tips from Britain’s top advanced driver, Peter Rodger. This week, he is giving some essential advice to those driving in France this summer.

In France all drivers and motorcyclists (excluding mopeds) need to carry a breathalyser kit, with two disposable breathalysers. The breathalyser must meet the NF standards (similar to the BSI here in the UK) and carry an NF certification. The French government have postponed the fine for non compliance but you still have to have one.

Remember too, that the drink drive limit in France is lower than in the UK, 50mg compared to 80mg per 100ml of blood. If you’re driving, don’t drink, and beware the morning after effect.

On-the-spot fines or 'deposits' in France are severe. An official receipt should always be issued. Vehicles parking contrary to regulations may be towed away and impounded.

Holders of EU driving licenses exceeding the speed limit by more than 40 km/h will have their licences confiscated on the spot by the police.

You are required to carry a warning triangle, reflective jacket, and convert your headlamps when driving in France.  It is recommended that you carry spare light bulbs if you can fit them easily.

Driving on the right hand side of the road on unknown routes can be rather challenging. Take regular breaks, and always have a rest if you’re getting sleepy.

A child sitting in the front passenger seat must be at least 10 years old (or a baby up to 9 months in a rear-facing child seat).

While radar speed camera detectors are legal in the UK, in France they are illegal whether or not you are using them. This legislation includes satnav systems which show speed camera information. 

IAM chief examiner Peter Rodger said: “The school holidays are fast approaching, and many people will be driving on the continent this summer. Driving abroad can be very different to driving at home, but preparation as always is the key. Make sure your car is fit for the journey, plan your route in advance, including fuel stops, and perhaps most importantly, remember your breathalysers.”

Content credited to: Institute of Advanced Motoring - June 2013

Tips for driving in  Germany

Road safety charity the IAM is offering weekly motoring tips from Britain’s top advanced driver, Peter Rodger. This week, he is advising on driving regulations for Germany.

While some autobahns (motorways) are free of speed restrictions, this is only on parts of the network. Where there are speed limits posted, they are strictly enforced.

Remember that the drink drive limit is lower in Germany, 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood (rather than 80 mg in the UK) – this could be especially crucial when considering the ‘morning after’ effect.

To park in Germany you need to buy a blue parking disc (parkscheibe), available at service stations, and parking vouchers (parkschein). Parking meters are also common.

Radar speed camera detectors are illegal in Germany, whether or not you are using them. Penalties include fines of up to €1500.

During daylight, you must use dipped headlights or daytime running lights if your vision is impaired by fog, snow or rain.

You should carry a warning triangle, set of bulbs and a first aid kit, although these are only compulsory for residents. And don’t forget your GB sticker. 

IAM chief examiner Peter Rodger said: “When driving abroad, you need to think about the regulations not only of your final destination, but of the countries you’ll pass through on your way.

“For instance, if you’re heading to Germany via the land of their French neighbours, don’t forget that you are required to carry a pack of two disposable breathalysers to keep the gendarmerie happy. The breathalysers must meet NF standards and carry the NF certification.”

Content credited to: Institute of Advanced Motorists - June 2013

Take the strain out of driving in  Spain

Road safety charity the IAM is offering weekly motoring tips from Britain’s top advanced driver, Peter Rodger. This week, he is advising on driving regulations for Spain.

You are required to carry two warning triangles in your vehicle. In the event of a breakdown, they should be placed in front of and behind the car.

If a driver wears glasses, they must keep a spare pair in the car.

As with much of Europe, the drink drive limit is lower in Spain than in the UK. Bear this in mind, and if you’re going to drive, make it none for the road.

Parking in many towns is controlled by blue zones (zonas azul) where a disc must be displayed.

Don’t park on main roads with continuous white lines along the edge.

Children can sit in the front seat but must be at least 12 years old, unless using a child restraint.

Radar speed camera detectors are still allowed in Spain, but the authorities are considering banning them, so make sure you are up to date with this legislation before you travel.

Remember that if you drive through France to get to (or from) Spain you have that set of rules to deal with as well. 

IAM chief examiner Peter Rodger said: “Rest up before any long journey, prepare your car for the trip, and if you have a passenger, get them to remind you each time you set off that you should be driving on the right-hand side of the road.

“The Spanish policía issue on-the-spot fines which can be rather hefty. Make sure you get an official receipt if you find yourself on the wrong side of the law, so you have a reference in case you wish to appeal.”

Content credited to: Institute of Advanced Motoring - June 2013

Don’t be a menace in  Venice

Road safety charity the IAM is offering weekly motoring tips from Britain’s top advanced driver, Peter Rodger. This week, he is advising on driving regulations in Italy.

Always carry your driving licence, vehicle registration document (V5) and insurance certificate. If you don’t have a photo licence, make sure you have your passport at hand to validate the licence.

The drink-drive limit is less than in the UK; you cannot have more than 50mg per 100ml blood (compared to 80mg in the UK) – this is the case in most European countries.

Daytime running lights are mandatory, and as a visitor you must use dipped headlights in poor daytime visibility and in all tunnels, no matter what time of day.

Be safe and be seen: you are required to carry a warning triangle and reflective jacket with you at all times.

All grades of unleaded petrol (benzina), diesel (gasolio) and LPG are available as well as lead substitute additive. Leaded petrol no longer exists. 

Traffic is restricted in many historical centres and major towns. These are known as ‘Zone a Traffico Limitato’, or ZTLs. They are only permitted for residents’ use. Entering such areas will result in a fine by post.

In Italy it is illegal to carry radar speed camera detection equipment, although this does not include the Point Of Interest radar detection built into most sat-navs. 

IAM chief examiner Peter Rodger said: “Driving from London to Rome takes a gruelling 20 hours, so preparing yourself and your car is essential. Check all of your lights are working and that your tyres have enough tread, aren’t damaged and have the right pressure. Plan your journey to include rest stops, preferably every two hours, and if you’re tired, stop and sleep for as long as you need to. You should never plan this as a non-stop journey.

“To get to Italy you may have to drive through France. Don’t forget that all drivers and motorcyclists need to carry a breathalyser kit, with two disposable breathalysers. The breathalyser must carry the NF certification, and all drivers and riders must also comply with any other French rules while in France.”

Content credited to: Institute of Advanced Motorists - June 2013

Driving forth upon our clouded hills in the  UK

Road safety charity the IAM is offering weekly motoring tips from Britain’s top advanced driver, Peter Rodger. As summer is here and many people are choosing to holiday in the UK this year, he is advising on planning to stay safe on long journeys.

Share the driving if possible.  It makes more sense to spread the load of the different aspects of a journey.  If there are two adults, it’s the passenger’s job to look after the kids, not the driver’s.  That way both the kids and the driving get proper attention.

Include regular rest stops, preferably at least once every two hours.  Make sure you eat sensibly, and drink enough fluid, especially if the summer turns out warm – dehydration destroys concentration quickly.  And get out of the car and walk around when you make the stop – it makes a real difference.

Plan your fuel stops in advance, especially if traffic is likely to be heavy. There’s nothing worse than sitting in a traffic queue with the fuel warning light glowing.  If budget is an issue try and plan to buy away from the motorway – service area prices tend to be higher, but running out on the motorway is both dangerous and can be very expensive.

Make sure you get enough sleep the night before a long journey. If you feel tired, stop somewhere safe – this does not include the hard shoulder of the motorway. If you feel really tired, have a coffee and a 20 minute nap to give the caffeine time to take effect. If there's a long way to go, stop for a proper sleep.

Be sure to take something for the kids to eat, drink, look at and do. When the inevitable request for one or more of these occurs, you’ll immediately have something to hand to prevent a distraction occurring. Pack the car so that the kids can see of out the windows, and so that the passengers feel they can move their limbs – it helps keep the mood cheerful. 

IAM chief examiner Peter Rodger said: “Getting away on holiday is great fun, but it can also be hugely stressful, especially if you have the whole family with you. Make sure you prepare yourself, your car and your route beforehand, for a trip that’ll has everyone smiling from start to finish.  Enjoy your holiday.”

Content credited to: Institute of Advanced Motorists - July 2013

The IAM is the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, dedicated to improving standards and safety in driving, motorcycling and cycling. The commercial division of the IAM operates through its occupational driver training company IAM Drive & Survive. The IAM has more than 200 local volunteer groups and over 100,000 members in the UK and Ireland. It is best known for the advanced driving test and the advanced driving, motorcycling and cycling courses. Its policy and research division offers advice and expertise on road safety.