Driving abroad? New online tool makes it easy to find out about driving laws and safety

Added 28/03/2013

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has launched a new online tool to help British Nationals stay safe and legal when they are driving abroad.

The road safety tool has been developed in response to a high number of road traffic accidents affecting British tourists in popular holiday destinations such as Spain, Thailand and Australia.

Driving Conditions Can be Very Different

The condition of roads, driving etiquette and driving laws vary widely in different countries across the world and many countries have a much higher rate of road accidents and deaths than we have in the UK. These road deaths affect British tourists as well as locals.

In fact, after deaths from natural causes, road traffic accidents are the most common cause of death for British Nationals in Thailand. They also cause a high number of hospitalisations.

The number of Brits involved in road traffic accidents abroad also highlights the need for travel insurance every time you go away. If you are involved in a traffic accident and you need medical treatment it’s important to have valid travel insurance in place which will cover the cost of your medical bills. If you don’t have travel insurance you would be liable for your own medical bills.

Your travel insurance will cover medical bills following a road accident, where you have been a pedestrian, a passenger in a vehicle or driving the vehicle (so long as you have the appropriate licence). Please note, travel insurance does not provide cover for liability if you cause an accident whilst driving, this should be covered by your car insurance.

Road Safety Advice

If you are driving in a foreign country where the roads are less safe than they are in the UK it’s very important to be aware of local laws and driving conditions in order to stay safe.

The new online tool, launched by the FCO this week, makes it easy to get up to date information about driving laws and road safety for the specific country you are travelling to.

Driving Abroad: Road Safety and Laws (online tool)

Local Driving Laws

In addition to being aware of safety advice, you also need to know about laws and regulations for driving in the countries you are visiting — the online tool can also help with this.

Other countries have different driving laws than the UK, including some things you might not expect, for instance:

  • France — drivers are required to carry a breathalyser at all times
  • Scandinavia — it is illegal to drive without headlights, even in daylight
  • Spain — if you need to wear glasses, you are required to carry a spare pair when driving
  • Germany — it is illegal to drive without Winter tyres at certain times of the year
  • Belarus — it is illegal to drive a dirty car
  • Spain — in some cities, cars must be parked on different sides of the road according to the day of the week
  • Serbia — compulsory equipment to be held by driver includes a tow bar and 3m rope
  • Russia — it is forbidden to pick up hitchhikers

Driving Abroad: Road Safety and Laws (online tool)

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