Money Matters Team

Driving on the continent

By Money Matters Team 20/03/2013

Explore Europe from behind the wheel.

Whether you're taking a spin along the Pyrenees or avoiding goats en route to the Alps, the humble car is one of the best ways to travel across Europe.

Just imagine the many exciting experiences: the thrill of driving around the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, watching golden sunsets in southern Spain or negotiating through a quaint German market town.

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Wherever you go, here are a few more rules of the road from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to keep in mind.

Don't forget your breathalyser in France

You don't have to be a racing driver to reach Le Mans. For a quick getaway to this famous city, head down the E402 or, if more sedate and scenic driving is your thing, take the minor roads. Whichever roads you choose, remember you must now carry a single-use breathalyser in your car. A fine of 11 Euros can be imposed on those found driving without one.

Be wary of changing speed limits in Germany

From Bruges to Berlin, Germany is renowned for its fast and efficient roads and motorways (autobahns). But be wary: although the country has no maximum speed limit on some of its motorways, blue speed limit signs, usually showing 130, are suggested maximum speeds. Other limits may change according to weather conditions, and these are mandatory!

Come equipped for Spain

The epic E5 motorway in Spain winds its way via Madrid to near Malaga. And the countryside and culture en route are equally impressive. Yet however long and short the journey is, drivers must carry a spare wheel and a full set of spare light bulbs as well as the tools to change them.

Check driving rules in Holland

When negotiating its many waterways and peninsulas, Holland is a picturesque place and easily reached from the channel ports. Be particularly careful on roundabouts: on some you have the right of way, but on others you must give way to vehicles coming on to the roundabout. Holland also strongly encourages cycling so cyclists have the right of way and strict laws make the car responsible in any accident between a car and a bike.

Pre journey checks – ones for the road

There might be endless miles (or kms) stretching out before you when you arrive in Europe – yet here are a few checks to help you prepare:

  • Tyres – check they are correctly inflated and have sufficient tread
  • Make sure you have the right level of insurance cover while you're abroad. As well as travel insurance, check your car insurance has European cover
  • Servicing and MOT – make sure your car is up-to-date
  • Breakdown cover – does your car insurance feature this as standard or do you have a separate policy in place to cover driving abroad?

This Money Matters post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another Sainsbury's Bank page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.