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Driving abroad: the essential guide

Are you confident about driving abroad? Are you up to speed with the local laws of the road? British motorists reveal all in new research….

Whilst there’s no denying that hiring a car abroad allows you to get off the beaten track and discover new sights, sounds and tastes, it’s important to get up to speed with local driving laws.

Heading abroad on Le Shuttle

Rentalcars.com surveyed 1,000 people from the UK who had all driven abroad in the last two years to find out the nation’s thoughts and feelings on the topic – just how au-fait are British motorists when it comes to international driving laws?

83% of respondents claimed that they did do their homework before driving abroad, however their general knowledge on international driving laws left a lot to be desired, suggesting we’re perhaps not as thorough as we could be.

The highway hump

Of the 84% of motorists visiting the USA, just 37% were aware that it’s illegal to ride a camel on the highway!

Whilst most would forgive a foreign driver for being unaware of such a bizarre law, knowledge on more common local laws was also somewhat lacking:

  • 67% of motorists visiting Spain claimed to have researched local driving laws, yet only 37% knew that you can only park on certain sides of the road in some towns and cities.
  • An impressive 90% of drivers visiting France said they’d done their research, however only 69% knew that local laws dictates that all motorists must carry a breathalyser.
  • Only 50% of those driving in Germany knew that it is illegal to run out of fuel on the autobahn, despite 92% claiming to have done their research.
  • 72% of respondents that visited Greece reckoned they had read up on local driving laws, however just 28% knew that it is illegal to smoke whilst driving.
  • 81% of motorists visiting Italy said they had done their homework on local driving laws, but just 38% knew that you need a permit to drive in certain historic areas.

Reckless

A lot has been said in the UK about countries that seem to have more risky drivers on the road than most, but which foreign roads do we feel most safe on?

The perception of those surveyed is that Dutch motorists are the safest – 30% agreed on this. In second place was America with 15%, and in third place was Ireland with 13%.

GB sticker

Whilst certain countries may have a reputation for reckless driving, we too are prone to making mistakes when we step outside our UK comfort zone.

  • 52% admitted to getting lost whilst driving abroad.
  • 33% have had to stop and ask for directions.
  • 31% revealed they had accidentally exceeded a foreign speed limit.
  • 27% have committed the ultimate clanger and driven on the wrong side of the road!
  • 24% have misunderstood foreign road signs.

Despite the above figures, thankfully just 4% of those surveyed have been involved in an accident on foreign roads, which suggests that as a nation, we’re pretty safe drivers on the whole.

The survey also revealed which global destinations were considered to be the most overrated and underrated. More strange foreign driving lawsat the Rentalcars.com website.

About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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