Driving Safely in Europe

As the last schools break up for summer, we wanted to put together some tips and advice for those taking their company cars away on holiday.

The first thing to remember is that in Europe, cars are driven on the right side of the road, not the left. As well as this, road signs can be quite confusing abroad so you should familiarise yourself with road signs and motoring laws before leaving for your holiday.

Before you leave, it is important to note that, to take leased vehicles out of the country, you’ll need a Letter of Authority and a Vehicle on Hire Certificate, known as a VE103. These both need to be applied for by the leasing company, or if the company owns the vehicle, you’ll need a Letter of Authority along with either a VE103 or the original V5C certificate.

Things You Need to Take

Each country has its own motoring laws and these are subject to change so remember to check before you go away. There are certain laws to be aware of before heading to Europe, however. For instance, it is compulsory to carry a reflective jacket in your car if visiting France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Austria or Croatia. Many countries require or recommend you to carry a warning triangle too. You may also need to carry cash, a first aid kit, a torch, headlight deflectors and a fire extinguisher.

Ensure that your insurance and breakdown cover will protect you while you’re away and do a thorough vehicle check before you leave. You’ll need to display a GB sticker or Euro Plate with a GB Euro symbol on it, and some vehicles require a motorway tax disc or vignette for driving on motorways. These can be bought at many border crossings and larger petrol stations.

French motoring law requires you to display a clean air (Crit’Air) sticker on your windscreen, keep a breathalyser kit in your car and carry a spare set of headlamp bulbs. The new Crit’Air scheme began in January 2017 and has a sticker rating for how much each car pollutes. The law is still slowly coming into place across the country but could restrict your drive depending on where you go. To apply for your sticker online, you’ll need to know the European Emissions Standard for your vehicle and apply here

While you’re Away

As well as driving on the right, seatbelts are compulsory everywhere in Europe. Always stick to the speed limit as speed traps are frequent and some countries issue on-the-spot fines and traffic fines. Any convictions you get while you’re away count against your UK licence, so you’ll need to be just as careful abroad. Just like in the UK, drink driving and using a mobile phone while driving are illegal, and European laws are often much stricter than UK laws.

Spain has recently introduced new portable speed cameras, called the Velolaser. These discreet radar speed cameras can detect traffic travelling in both directions and can be controlled remotely by police patrols, meaning that you won’t see them or be aware that you’ve been caught speeding until the fine arrives. Other countries have also increased their speed cameras and technologies, including France and Italy.

Keep an eye out for lesser known laws that may catch you out while you’re away. For instance, in Spain, you can get fined around £80 for filling your tank while your car radio is still on, and in France you can be fined for having speed camera warning devices enabled.


Use our handy checklist to ensure that you're all prepped for your trip away.



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