British drivers who are heading to the continent this summer should prepare properly, or risk joining the growing numbers who have had a road traffic accident while driving abroad.
Driving abroad is a stressful experience for many British drivers. According to research from insurer Confused.com, nearly three quarters (73%) of Britons who will drive abroad this summer have a fear of foreign roads because of confusing foreign road signs, driving habits and cross-country law changes.
But there is clear evidence that many British drivers do little to make the experience easier for themselves.
A recent AXA survey reveals that British drivers are more likely to take risks with the law when they are abroad. Just over a quarter of those surveyed (27%) were less concerned about breaking speed limits abroad than at home, while 18% took drink driving less seriously than at home.
A further seven percent said they were less likely to use seatbelts abroad and four percent said they were more likely to use a mobile while driving than they would do at home. Only 38% said that none of the above applied to them.
The survey, of 2,000 drivers planning to take their own cars abroad this summer, also reveals that less than half were going to make any effort to check on the foreign driving rules and regulations that apply before leaving home.
Only 24% will spend time learning what local road signs mean and nearly two thirds (63%) will set off without checking that they have the necessary and valid driving documentation with them (e.g. proof of vehicle ownership, international driving permit), says the car insurer.
In separate research, Aviva reveals that almost three quarters (73%) of Brits have fallen foul of the rules of the road or got into difficulty when driving on holiday.
Twenty-eight percent of people surveyed told the insurer that they had misread or misunderstood foreign road signs and 16% admitted that they had actually driven on the wrong side of the road.
With this in mind it is perhaps reassuring that the European Commission is trying to make it easier for the victims of cross-border traffic accidents to claim compensation.
At the moment each EU country has different rules and time limits for claiming compensation, which can make it confusing and difficult for victims to obtain the justice they deserve. The Commission is looking at possible solutions, which could include a new law to harmonise time limits.
“There are around one million road traffic accidents in the EU every year and some of these inevitably involve visitors from other EU countries,” said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner. “A road accident is a stressful experience for anyone, but it can get even worse if the victim is denied compensation due to complicated rules on bringing a claim. The European Commission wants to find out more so that we can offer effective solutions and make sure all victims have proper access to justice. European citizens should feel at ease when using their car to go on holiday in another EU country.”