Six out of 10 (59%) UK motorists travelling to France are not aware of new laws which come into force on 1 July, making it compulsory to carry two NF approved breathalysers at all times. Failure to do so results in an on the spot fine.
It is not just the new breathalyser law that motorists do not know about. A Halfords survey of UK drivers at Dover, the UK’s busiest port showed that many drivers are oblivious of the continental driving laws on compulsory equipment, driving age and alcohol limits.
One in five (20%) drivers did not have headlamp convertors attached to their car, a legal requirement in most countries across Europe, with an on the spot fine of €100. While over two thirds (74%) of motorists who wear glasses to drive, did not have a spare pair with them, which is a legal requirement in Spain. The research also revealed more than one in 10 (12%) motorists were not displaying a GB sticker, despite it being a legal requirement if you do not already have a number plate with a GB Euro symbol on it. Anyone driving in France is required to carry a warning triangle and a fluorescent safety vest. The vest should be carried inside the car and not the car boot. Failure to have these in the car can lead to a fine of €90. Other items required are a first aid kit, fire extinguisher and spare bulbs for car lamps, lenses and reflectors.
But I’ve just had my birthday
Over a third (34%) of drivers travelling to France would allow a 17-year-old to drive their car, unaware that they would be breaking the law because the legal age for driving in France is 18.
One in ten (9%) of us wrongly presume the alcohol limit for drivers in Europe will be higher than at home, when it is actually considerably lower in France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
The research discovered a lack of knowledge of even the simplest continental road rules, only minutes away from needing them:
* 20% of drivers travelling to France failed to identify the French ‘Give Way’ sign – one of the most important signs on the road and the same shape as ours
* 92% of motorists travelling to Germany were unable to recognise the German road sign for express way
* Almost a third of motorists (29%) did not know what the correct road markings were for ‘no overtaking’ in the country they were travelling to.
Following the research findings, Halfords has put together a useful guide to driving abroad, to help UK motorists and prevent them ending up on the wrong side of the law.
Commenting on the research, Halfords spokesperson, David Sawday, said: “Summer holidays are memorable lifetime trips and we want motorists to remember them for the right reasons. Halfords can supply all the equipment motorists need and our guide tells you what you should take and the key laws to observe.
“Motorists should also make sure their cars are fit to travel. Visit your local Halfords Autocentre to check your lights, oil and coolant levels, tyre tread and pressures.”
Halfords’ Guide to Driving Abroad is a pocket sized guide which provides handy hints on continental driving and guidelines to road rules in France, Germany, Spain and Italy. The free guides are available to download from www.halfords.com
* Three quarters (75%) of motorists travelling to Spain were not aware of local speed limits, likewise with Italy (70%), Germany (58%) and France (44%)
* Over a quarter (28%) of female drivers have been fined for doing something they did not realise was an offence
* Men are savvier to European speed limits. When asked about the limits in France, Italy and Germany, more men answered correctly compared with women
* Male drivers (7%) have been fined more than female drivers (5%)
* Drivers over 40 years old are most likely to get fined abroad. 40% of drivers over 40 years have been fined compared with only 13% of drivers under 40 years.