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Top tips for driving abroad this summer

Navigating Europe - top tips for driving abroad this summer


Driving is without doubt the most enjoyable way to experience a new country as it gives you the freedom to travel on your own terms. So with the holiday season in full swing, many holidaymakers will be looking forward to getting behind the wheel and taking to the road to explore new territories.

In the pre-holiday excitement, it can be easy to forget how widely the rules and regulations of the road differ on the continent, from speed limits to road signs and in-car requirements. Therefore, as France becomes the latest country to make a change to its laws, by making it compulsory for motorists to carry a breathalyser kit*, Avis is reminding holidaymakers to check the rules of the road before they travel to make sure their trip runs smoothly.

To help drivers navigate their way around Europe, Avis has compiled a list of some of the top road rules for motorists to be aware of:

Travelling with Children

  • If you’re travelling with a child over the age of ten, it will differ from country to country as to whether they are allowed to ride in the front, so check the regulations before buckling up


  • In Germany it’s illegal to run out of petrol on the autobahn so keep an eye on your fuel gauge

Health & Safety 

  • In Spain, drivers who wear glasses or contact lens must carry a spare pair in the car by law


  • Many toll roads in Europe won’t accept credit or debit cards, so make sure to take plenty of change. In Portugal, Avis offers an e-toll solution, which makes an electronic payment for all Avis cars so you don’t have to worry about how, when or where to pay 

Rules on the Road 

  • In Belgium, U-turns are not allowed at intersections
  • Many European countries require motorists to use dipped headlights at all times. For instance, in Italy drivers have to use dipped headlights during the day on the motorway, dual carriage ways and out-of-town roads and in Hungary it’s illegal to use full-beam lights at any time
  • In some countries it’s now illegal to use a satellite navigation system that can identify the position of fixed speed cameras. If you choose to use your own system, ensure that you disable this function

New Drivers 

  • In the UK, any car displaying a green ‘P’ sign means that they’ve only held a license for less than a year, so keep your distance and give the driver more space. In Spain this is displayed by an ‘L’ sign

Speed Limits 

  • Speed limit signs differ from country to country. In some countries, they may be showing the advisory maximum speed limit, whereas in other areas the sign may actually be showing a minimum speed limit. Download a guide to familiarise yourself with road signs in the area before you travel

Kaye Ceille, Managing Director of Avis UK, explains: "Driving abroad is the best way to experience a new country. Alongside visiting tourist spots, you can go off the beaten track to discover hidden gems and get a feel for the local culture. With new driving rules and regulations being brought in recently it’s not as simple as packing up the car and hitting the road. Even the most experienced drivers can come unstuck if they haven’t done their research.

"By hiring a car though you can avoid any hassle as your hire vehicle will be equipped with the items required within that specific country, such as a breathalyser kit, which is provided by Avis in all French vehicles. Staff at the station can also advise you of the speed limits and any other regulations and arrange for an insurance policy that suits your needs.’

For more information visit: www.avis.co.co.uk.