Donalds Mazda
Request Callback

Be aware of current European motoring laws this summer

Driving abroad poses a number of risks and not just because it is likely to involve on the other side of the road. Many people lack a general awareness of current European motoring laws.

For example, from January this year, British registered drivers travelling to France can receive an on-the-spot fine of more than £100 for not displaying a ‘clean air’ sticker on their windscreen. The Crit’Air scheme aims to tackle pollution, making it a legal requirement for all vehicles – cars, lorries, motorbikes and buses – to display its anti-pollution sticker to show how much their vehicle pollutes.

Even drivers who go abroad regularly should check the local rules of the road. Motoring organisation websites such as the AA offer up-to-date motoring advice about the country they are visiting. It’s also good practice for drivers to ensure their service schedule is up to date, that they have valid breakdown cover for Europe, and that they have carried out the usual maintenance checks such as oil, water, tyres and glass. This helps to avoid unnecessary costs and possible fines.

Company car drivers also need to see if they need to complete a VE103b form (authority to travel) before they take their car to Europe – this provides formal confirmation that they have permission from the owner to drive the car abroad.

If stopped by traffic police, you may be asked to produce the following documents:

  • Full valid driving licence with the paper counterpart if you have the new style photo card licence.
  • The original vehicle registration document V5, or a valid Vehicle On Hire Certificate VE103b.
  • Current motor insurance certificate.
  • Valid passport.
  • Travel insurance certificate.
  • In France, motorways are privately managed, so if you break down on the motorway your breakdown and recovery provider will probably not be able to help you. Go to the nearest emergency phone, dial 17 and the official motorway breakdown service will come to you. Once you have been towed, call the helpline for your breakdown and recovery supplier.

  • Have a second set of keys with you when you travel. This will save time and money if you lose your main set while you’re away.
  • GB stickers are compulsory within the EU unless your UK registration plates display the GB Euro-symbol (Europlates).
  • In some countries, it is compulsory to use dipped headlights at all times. For older vehicles, this can be done by using simple adhesive masks on the headlamp glass. Without adjustment, the dipped beam will dazzle oncoming drivers and this could result in a fine.
  • It’s a good idea to carry spare bulbs for any lights that may be easily and/or safely replaced. Spare bulbs are a compulsory requirement in some countries.
  • Many countries require all drivers, including visitors, to carry hi-vis/reflective jackets.
  • There is only one safe rule – if you drink, don't drive. Laws are strict and the penalties severe. In France, drivers of all motor vehicles and motorcycles (excluding mopeds) must carry a breathalyser. Although there is no current legislation demanding a fine for non-compliance, you are still required to carry a self-test breathalyser. One unused, certified breathalyser must be produced showing the French certification mark NF. It has to be in date, and single-use breathalysers normally have a validity of 12 months.
  • 112 is the European emergency call number. You can dial anywhere in the European Union in case of accident, assault or in any other distress situation.
  • “Many motorists are likely to drive in Europe this summer and unwittingly break the law,” Simon Staton, a Director of Venson Automotive Solutions, said. “It’s crucial they familiarise themselves with the motoring regulations and laws if they are planning to drive abroad. If they don’t, they could find themselves having to pay a hefty on-the-spot fine or, worst case scenario, their car could be confiscated.”