British drivers admit they drive badly abroad

by Ray Clancy on August 30, 2011

Advise on British drivers going overseas

British people cause havoc while driving abroad with some 2.2 million admitting to driving on the wrong side of the road and a further 1.3 million admitting to driving the wrong way up a one-way street.

They fail to understand basic traffic laws and road and men are more than three times as likely as women to drive on the wrong side of the road, with 1.76 million men admitting to this, compared to 483,000 women, the research from Sainsbury’s car insurance shows.

Also 880,000 British drivers saying they have breached driving laws in foreign countries after misreading road signs and 520,000 claim to have been stopped by police for speeding. In addition, 419,000 drivers have been involved in a motoring accident while overseas.

‘Drivers taking their cars abroad need to prepare, not just because they’ll be driving on the other side of the road, but because laws differ from country to country,’ said Ben Tyte, head of car insurance at Sainsbury’s Finance.

‘While the Channel Tunnel and numerous ferry crossings make it easier than ever to take your car abroad, motorists need to ensure they have a suitable insurance policy to cover them while overseas and that they understand the legal requirements for driving in the country they are going to,’ he explained.

‘Failing to do so could ruin your time abroad and leave your severely out of pocket. We strongly encourage people to ensure they have adequate car insurance and breakdown assistance,’ he added.

Havoc on Europe’s roads is not the only concern, many of those taking cars overseas also find themselves victims of vehicle crime and other unfortunate incidents.

In the past five years, more than half a million Britons have had their car vandalized while abroad, with 310,000 having their vehicle broken into. In addition, 400,000 drivers have lost their car keys.

When it comes to covering the cost of these incidents, 6% said while they had car insurance in place their policy did not cover the incident they faced, a further 2% had their claims turned down, as they were not covered. Only 5% of British motorists successfully claimed on their car insurance while driving abroad in the past five years.

Sainsbury’s car insurance suggests the following checklist might be helpful for anyone planning to take their own car abroad:

  • Call your car insurance provider and advise them you are planning to drive abroad; doing this could mean a much smoother process should you need to make a claim. Make sure you check the level of cover you will have whilst abroad and how long you can travel for. Typically, they provide fully comprehensive insurance for a few days so if you are going for more than a long weekend makes sure you ask your provider to top it up.
  • Check your car insurance policy for European breakdown assistance, some policies offer this as standard. Plan your route: invest in a map or use a European route planner on the internet, to ensure you know where you are going and anticipate any risks in advance.
  • Take your time: Set a realistic timescale for your journey to avoid feeling pressured to drive fast or not take enough breaks. Driving on unfamiliar roads abroad can be even more tiring than usual, so give yourself time and consider planning your route to avoid the centre of major cities where driving is likely to be most stressful.

Check the motoring laws for the countries you are visiting. If you are going to be driving in several countries across Europe make a note of the different rules that apply in each country and take this with you. Make sure you refer to the notes before you cross the border and enter each country.

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