Like sunburn and people talking loudly in English without learning another language, driving abroad is an often unavoidable part of travelling overseas. Among families, in particular, driving holidays are a popular form of vacation.
But getting behind the wheel in another country can come at an unexpected cost, especially if you do not know the rules of the road. According to research from car insurer Aviva, one in four Brits heading off on a driving holiday do not research the driving laws for the country they’re visiting before their trip, while more than one in five (22 per cent) also admit to not having insurance for driving abroad.
As tourists and second home owners head off for the Bank Holiday, we present five things you didn’t know you could be charged for on foreign roads.
Using your satnav to detect speed cameras (France)
Devices capable of detecting speed cameras to warn drivers are a wonderfully useful tool – but in France, satnav alerts for speed cameras are illegal. If you’re caught using one (or break any other French driving laws), the French police can confiscate your license and impound your vehicle.
Not having a second pair of glasses (Spain)
Need glasses to drive safely? Make sure you pack a spare paid, if you’re going to Spain: the rules of the road state that you need to have two sets of glasses or contact lenses. If you don’t, you’re likely to face a fine.
Turning your headlights off (Norway)
In Norway, it’s compulsory to keep your headlights on 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Yes, even in the middle of summer, where the sun doesn’t set in some parts of the country. On the downside, it’s easy to forget and can drain your car battery. On the plus side, it’s easy to spot all those serial killers that Scandinavian dramas have warned us about.
Honking your horn (Finland)
Beeping the horn is a rite of passage for many drivers. In some countries, drivers seem to think it’s necessary to move the car forwards. But in Finland, it’s illegal to use your horn when driving unless you’re in danger. The downside is that it makes it harder to warn animals to move out of the way – and in Finland, the wildlife crossing the road is much bigger than the small creatures you might spot in England. Reindeers and elks could easily find their way in front of your bonnet. If you do hit a large animal, it’s also illegal not to report it to the police.
Stopping on the motorway (Germany)
Speed limits. In most countries, they’re restrictions, not targets. But in Germany, when you’re on the autobahn, there are some stretches where they have speed recommendations – sometimes up to as fast as 130km per hour. Going slower won’t land you with a fine, but it’s illegal to stop on the motorway. Yes, even if you run out of petrol. It’s like being Keanu Reeves in Speed. But without the bomb on the bus.