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Driving Safely On Your Summer Holiday

By raccars Published

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The summer holidays are in full swing and this means that families all over Britain are loading up their cars and setting off for the continent. Most will have dutifully organised tickets, accommodation, travel insurance and kennelling for the dog, but may not have given a thought to how their car will stand up to the journey. Here's how to enjoy driving abroad in safety.

European Insurance

British roads are the second safest in Europe, so comprehensive European insurance is a must. This is probably the most important thing you can do to help your driving holiday go more smoothly. If you have an accident abroad and are not covered you could find yourself out of pocket by £1000s.

Most insurance policies include at least 30 days third party cover for driving in Europe - which is likely to be a downgrade from the level of cover you’re comfortable with. Improving your cover can be as simple as getting touch with your insurance company – or switching to one which offers better cover. Even a Green Card only provides the legal minimum cover, so consider adding comprehensive international cover to avoid expensive bills in the event of an accident or theft. If you’re looking for car insurance, get in touch with RAC insurance.

Breakdown cover

A breakdown at any time can be an annoyance at the very least but if you are in a foreign country it is likely to be doubly worse. Difficulties with the language barrier as well as the costs of getting your car repaired can make a simple breakdown a nightmare. Repatriating your broken down car from abroad could cost thousands of pounds, not to mention the inconvenience and stress caused. Investigate international breakdown policies - the RAC can provide 5 star rated European Breakdown Cover to give you peace of mind while driving abroad.

Essential kit

While the road laws in Europe are some of the safest and most sensible in the world there are still differences between countries. So it is vital to check the law in your destination location, as well as any other countries you are planning to drive through, before setting off. In some countries it is compulsory to carry warning triangles, reflective jackets and portable breathalyser kits, for example. Don't risk running afoul of local regulations, make sure you have everything you need. Don't neglect a GB badge if your number plate doesn't include one, or headlight beam benders if your car's lights can't be adjusted. You can check out what you need to drive legally in Europe with the RAC European Motoring Advisor.


Most UK drivers will sensibly get their car serviced at regular intervals but if you are planning a long journey, especially abroad, then it makes sense to get a quick tune-up before you go. Even if you've taken out a comprehensive breakdown recovery policy, try and avoid the need to use it by booking your car in for a service before you leave. At least perform some basic maintenance of your own - check tyre pressure and tread levels and fluids and top up where necessary, not forgetting the windscreen washer reservoir.


You will need both the paper and card parts of your driving licence should you be pulled over abroad. Make sure you also have proof of insurance and of ownership, such as the V5 registration document or a confirmation of permission to use if the car is not your own. Keep the contact details of your insurer and breakdown cover provider on your person and do not leave any ownership documents in the car if you are not in it.


While the likelihood of your car being stolen is pretty small, forewarned is forearmed. Carjacking is more common in the southern half of Europe, particularly with foreign plated cars, so lock your doors while on the move or when stopped for petrol, food etc. Do not leave the keys in the car while you pay for fuel or ask for directions it only takes a moment for a watchful criminal to jump in the driver-seat and be off with your car and whatever it contains. Do not exit your vehicle at the request of random strangers, only for uniformed police. Even if another car bumps you, only stop in heavily populated areas, never on the side of a motorway or country road. Never leave your documentation in the car unattended and hide any personal belongings out of sight of thieves just as you would at home.

Have Fun!

With all this in mind you'll be more than prepared for having fun in the sun, and getting there safely. If you've not yet planned your journey, why not have a look at our 5 Routes To Enjoy Driving In Europe This Summer. Or ask yourself: Do You Know Where Your Car Comes From? The answer might surprise you!

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