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Be prepared: tips for driving abroad this half-term

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If you're driving on the Continent this half-term, here are a few tips from the Post Office to make sure your trip is safe and trouble-free.

For you:

  • Don’t get caught out – double check your insurance covers you for driving abroad and whether or not your policy is downgraded. It is also important to note any exclusions that may be applied to the policy when driving abroad.

  • Ensure you have adequate breakdown cover. It is advisable that you service your car ahead of your trip to avoid the chance of a breakdown.

  • Ensure you have the necessary documents, including: full driving licence, driving licence paper counterpart, V5c, your motor insurance certificate with contact details of your insurer and passports.

  • Make sure you check the driving laws in your chosen destination – for example, in Europe motorists drive on the right side of the road.

  • Familiarise yourself with varying speed limits which are likely to change dependent on whether you’re driving on a country road, in a city/ town centre, or on an expressway or highway.

  • Don’t rely on your satnav. Ensure you have comprehensive maps for the countries you are driving in and spend some time planning your route ahead of your trip. Satnav requirements also change from country to country. For example, in France, it is illegal to use a Satnav that possesses radar detection indicating the location of fixed speed cameras.

  • Make sure you take frequent rest breaks and always pull over for a rest if you’re feeling tired.

  • Many countries in Europe operate toll roads so make sure you have sufficient money to pay for the cost of tolls. It’s also important to keep some spare money to cover any unexpected costs.

For your car:

  • Protect your car from being broken into by behaving vigilantly; do not leave valuables in sight, check the vehicle is locked, and park in well-lit and safe areas.

  • Make sure you have a breakdown kit, including: fire extinguisher, first-aid kit, tool kit, spare bulbs, torch, blanket and warning triangle.

  • In Europe, you must display a GB sign on your car. Countries outside the EU require you to have a GB sticker, even if you have a GB Euro plate.

  • Make sure you have the appropriate equipment. Many countries require you to carry at least two reflective jackets, (in some countries the reflective jacket must be carried inside the vehicle and not placed in the boot), hazard triangles.

  • Make appropriate modifications to your headlights – driving on the opposite side of the road means that your left-drive headlights will dazzle oncoming drivers.

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