Driving abroad? Don't break the law!
With a few remaining drops of summer left to be squeezed out of August, driving over to the Continent can be an appealing option - but blasé Brits are apparently breaking the law on Europe's roads, according to new research.
MoneySupermarket found that more than half of British motorists driving in continental Europe have broken the native rules of the road, while one in 10 have been pulled over by police.
If you're planning a last-minute jaunt over the Channel it's best to brush up on your knowledge before you set off. Here's a look at the research and some basic things you need to know about driving in Europe.
Breaking the law
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The news isn't surprising as the EU has called out foreign drivers for breaking the law before.
Last year, EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said: "Foreign drivers account for 5% of traffic on Europe's roads, but 15% of offences. If you are that driver, I have bad news. It's about to stop."
MoneySupermarket's poll of more than 1,000 British motorists who'd driven on the Continent found more than half had committed at least one offence on Europe's roads.
The most common was exceeding the speed limit, with around a third of drivers breaking the law and around 6% getting pulled over by the police for it.
Peter Harrison, car insurance expert at MoneySupermarket, said: "As soon as your wheels hit European soil, continental driving rules will apply to you - and they vary from country to country.
"Over three and a half million cars are driven to France each year. Getting caught speeding there could rack up as many as six points on your licence, and a fine of up to €1,500 dependent on the severity of the speeding offence."
Some 9% of those polled had driven while under the influence of alcohol, breaking drink driving laws which often differ from our own. For example, in France the legal limit is 0.5mg of alcohol in your blood, lower than the UK's limit of 0.8mg and equivalent to a small beer.
So, if you're driving in Europe this summer you need to be particularly vigilant when it comes to speed and drink drive limits to make sure you don't fall foul of the law.
Be on the safe side
It's probably not possible to know all the motoring laws of the country you're going to, but Les Roberts does a comprehensive round-up of some of the Europe-wide rules you should familiarise yourself with, along with important country-specific ones, in his article Driving abroad - the rules and regulations.
For example, you can be fined on the spot for not displaying a GB sticker on your car when driving in the EU, and many European countries prohibit the use of satellite navigation systems which warn you about speed cameras.
New legislation in France means you must carry a French authority-certified breathalyser, with an 'NF' number, in your vehicle at all times. If police stop you and ask you to produce one, you'll be in trouble if you can't, or if you have a defective one, so it's best to pack a spare.
Rules like these could be surprising to UK drivers, proving that you should do a little research before setting off, just to be on the safe side.
Check your cover
As well as the local laws, it's important to familiarise yourself with your own car insurance before you go.
Don't assume that your car insurance will cover you for driving on the Continent, even if it does include a level of European driving cover, because it may not be enough.
If your policy does include some form of European driving cover, check how long you're covered for. For example, Marks & Spencer and Endsleigh's fully comprehensive policies cover you for a generous 90 days' worth of cover on the Continent, but yours could be less.
Also, just because you have a fully comprehensive policy back home, it doesn't mean you'll have it abroad. Many insurers
automatically downgrade a fully comp policy to the minimum level required for the country you're in, which is usually third party only.
Peter added: "It's crucial motorists study the small print of their policy, to understand how their car insurance changes when in another country. If you were unfortunate enough to have a crash while abroad and were only covered for third party, you could be left with a hefty bill."
If you have any questions or concerns about your car insurance policy and driving in Europe, get on the phone to your insurer and ask. You may be able to temporarily up your level of cover for an additional premium payment, giving you the peace of mind to enjoy your break.