Obey the rules of the road in Europe this summer or pay the price

Date Posted: 11/07/2019 11:47:58

British drivers heading to Europe this summer need to watch out when it comes to driving offences abroad, as foreign police forces can pursue guilty drivers once they return to the UK. Venson Automotive Solutions urges businesses to ensure their drivers understand the rules of the road in countries they are visiting to avoid fines and prosecution.
 
Two years ago, the UK signed up to a new system called Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA), making it easier for drivers from one country to be prosecuted by the authorities in another. According to Thomson Reuters, last year the UK received almost 2,000 requests for information about British drivers from other countries, up almost 20 per cent on the previous year. Offences include, speeding, drink driving, not wearing a seatbelt, running a red light or using a mobile phone at the wheel. Drivers can be prosecuted even when they have left the country where the offence took place.
 
Simon Staton, Director of Client Management at Venson Automotive Solutions, says, “Not all countries operate like the UK, where a notice of intent to prosecute must be sent to the driver within 14-days. Countries such as Italy allow up to 12-months, meaning a fine could be issued a long time after the original offence took place.
 
“It’s crucial that fleet drivers familiarise themselves with the motoring regulations and laws if they are planning to drive their company vehicle abroad at any time of year. Armed with our checklist, company car drivers can avoid many of the key things that catch people out. A little preparation goes a long way.”
 
Venson’s check list to help drivers stay on the right side of the law, this summer:
 
Have a Licence to Drive
Anyone driving within the EU/EAA needs a full driving licence issued in Great Britain or Northern Ireland. However, with Brexit looming, drivers may need extra paperwork to legally drive in the EU, so it’s vital that employers stay abreast of any changes.
 
Get the Right Insurance
Company car drivers should check their insurance policy before they leave. Some insurers require notification if you are driving outside the UK and others may only provide third-party cover abroad. Make sure your drivers are covered before they travel.
 
Check the Speed Limit
It may seem obvious, but speed limits vary between European countries. For UK drivers, the switch from miles to kilometres may take some getting used to. A 50km/h speed limit is common for urban areas, with main roads varying from 80km/h to 100km/h. Motorways also vary from 110km/h to 130km/h, but bad weather may see limits reduced. And whilst Germany is known for having some derestricted autobahns, that doesn’t apply across the whole motorway network, so drivers should check the local speed limits.
 
Don’t Test Drink-driving Limits
Many European countries have lower drink-drive limits than England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Across much of Europe the limit is 22 micrograms of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of breath. However, some countries in central Europe and Scandinavia have limits of 0.2g/l or even lower. In addition, some countries reduce the limit for new drivers, so company car drivers need to check the rules before they hit the road.
 
Borders Don’t Stop Fines
Many drivers may think they’re safe from fines, once they return to the UK or that being a foreign driver might offer some leeway, but this is not the case. Traffic police across Europe can issue on-the-spot fines to drivers, with fees ranging from €35 in Germany to €750 in France. European police can now pursue UK drivers once they return to the UK.
 
Watch Out for Tolls
Many European motorways, bridges and tunnels have tolls. The cost varies, depending on the country and the type of road. Drivers should check before they go to avoid any surprises, with most road authorities offering details online.
 
Beware City Congestion Zones
Air pollution and congestion is top of the agenda across Europe, with many cities, including Paris introducing restrictions on vehicles to tackle the problem. Towns and cities are introducing low-emissions zones or other restrictions in busy, urban areas, including bans or charges for certain vehicles at certain times. In France, drivers must display a sticker declaring their vehicle’s emission standards. Company car drivers should find out about restrictions before they go to avoid nasty surprises.
 
For further information on driving abroad visit the GOV.UK website. 
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