How to prepare for driving in the UK & abroad
If you're planning to get behind the wheel and explore this summer, it's vital you plan ahead first.
Before you set off...
It's essential you minimise the risk of breakdown. The best way to do this is to give your car a thorough check over first. So before you start your summer sojourn, take a look at:
The vehicle fluids
Check the oil and coolant levels are topped up, otherwise you run the risk of overheating your engine.
If they're worn you run a greater risk of suffering a puncture, so check all your tyres for damage or bulges. Also check your tyre pressure, it should be no higher or lower than what is recommended in your vehicle's driving manual.
Wipers and lights
Replace any wipers that are damaged or split and top up the screenwash. You also need to check that all the lights on your vehicle work - that includes your indicator, brake and number plate lights.
Your holiday memories shouldn't be of you stranded on the hard shoulder for hours on end. For peace of mind, ensure you have UK Breakdown Cover and/or European Breakdown Cover.
Europe's most desirable driving destinations
There's no better way to experience the UK and Europe's most beautiful scenery than from behind the wheel. So we've suggested three destinations that will inspire you to hit the road this summer:
- Peak District - Drive across the famous Snake Pass, between Glossop and the Ladybow Reservoir, and you'll experience the beautiful views of the Peak District and the Pennines. The land is made up of 555 sq miles of English countryside, blessed with a wonderful contrast of valleys, hills, gorges and lakes.
- Amalfi Coast, Italy - The Amalfi Coast boasts some of Europe's most breathtaking scenery. Its dramatic cliffs and sparkling seas have sealed its position on the UNESCO's World Heritage List. Sleepy villages are nestled throughout the Mediterranean landscape. Visit the town of Ravello for glorious hilltop views or the town of Salerno for a walk down its winding medieval streets.
- Provence, France - Azure seas, awe-inspiring landscapes, modern art and historical heritage... it's no wonder Provence is such a well-visited area. Take the back roads and you'll find miles and miles of famous vineyards, with ancient castles scattered along the route. Travel from Lacoste to Gordes and you can enjoy many stops at various historic towns.
Rules of the road: knowing Europe's traffic laws
Before you take your car across the Channel, it's important that you teach yourself the traffic laws of the country you're going to be visiting. Causing a traffic offence then pleading that you're a tourist is unlikely to get you off the hook. Below are a few of the rules you need to bear in mind, but you'll find more details about driving in the most popular European destinations in our Driving Abroad section.
Stay on the right!
In Europe, only the UK and Ireland drive on the left. So stay on the right-hand side of the road at all times when you're driving on the other side of the Channel. If you're not used to it, it's easy to forget - especially on roundabouts. So stay alert.
Drinking and driving
The amount of alcohol you can consume is lower in most European countries than it is in the UK. So be aware of the drink and drive rules wherever you are visiting. For example, in the Czech Republic the legal limit is zero and in France it is a legal requirement that you carry a breathalyser.
A UK driving licence may not be enough
While a UK driving licence is sufficient in most countries, there are places in Europe where they demand that you have an International Driving Permit. These are available over the counter at most post offices.