Summer is just around the corner which means for many families summer holidays and quick trips will be on the horizon! 

While flying may seem like the obvious option for travelling, many people are ditching the stress of chaotic airports, crowded flights and cancellations for greater control by driving abroad instead. With this however comes a few new challenges. In this article from FitMyTracker, we will assess some of the challenges posed to drivers while travelling abroad and suggest some safety tips to ensure you can enjoy your European road trip without worry. 

The challenges of driving abroad 

If you have chosen to travel the long open roads for your summer holidays this year, it is worth considering some issues you may face along the way. Afterall, very rarely does travelling abroad provide such a smooth journey.

New road rules – travelling cross-country and through various territories means you will have the complex situation of driving under new road rules. It is therefore important to review the rules of the road for each country you plan to travel through. For example, different safety equipment is required to be held within your car or vehicle at all times across different EU countries. 

Adjusting to KPH – Most European countries operate using kilometres per hour, as opposed to miles per hour. Although an obvious point to make, it is necessary to adjust to this so that you are not driving at a different speed or mis-understanding the rules of the road. Many cars can be easily adjusted to show KPH, simply check your vehicle’s handbook for more information. 

Paying toll roads – Across the EU there are a considerable number of toll roads to contend with. Although we do have several in the UK, some countries use this style of road a lot more. One thing to bear in mind is that you will need spare change or access to a payment card in order to pass through the toll booths you will certainly encounter on your journey. 

A greater number of risks – Driving in a foreign country means you may be more likely to encounter a different style of driving which could lead to an accident. While you are not used to this style of driving, other drivers may intimidate you causing you to lack confidence behind the wheel. Therefore, it is important to slightly adjust your style of driving and pay closer attention to the roads and other vehicles. You may normally drive with music on at home, but perhaps turning this off while you are travelling abroad would help you concentrate.

Since you are most likely a stranger to the country you are visiting, you may also stand out to potential thieves who are more likely to take advantage of your lack of local knowledge which could result in a car theft or being the victim of a scam.

How to keep safe on the roads abroad 

Carry the necessary safety equipment in your car – aside from the various rules of different EU countries, carrying safety equipment in your car when driving such long distances could make all the difference if you find yourself stuck on the side of the road. Some equipment that is a necessity in certain EU countries includes:

  • First aid kit 
  • Warning triangles 
  • Reflective  (hi-vis) jackets for driver and passengers 
  • Fire Extinguishers (commonly a mandatory requirement across Eastern Europe) 

Install security measures in your vehicle – Another safety tip to consider to ensure you are secure on the roads is to install security measures into your vehicle. For example a car alarm and immobiliser. An alarm is usually pre-installed into a modern car design, however some older models may not have one. It is a good idea to check that you have a car alarm and if it is working correctly. The same applies for immobilisers. 

Consider a GPS tracking system – As an additional method of security, you may also wish to consider a GPS tracking system. Many Thatcham-approved vehicle trackers are now compatible to work outside of the UK and across over 100 countries, including those in the EU. A GPS tracker will help you identify the location of your vehicle 24/7 and can be used in the instance of theft to increase the chances of a successful retrieval by the police. 

Wherever you intend to travel and drive this summer, the best advice is to plan ahead. Give yourself plenty of time to read up on the rules of European roads and fit your car with all the necessary security and safety measures you will need to stay safe on your journey.