Important Travel Info
The basic legal framework of European road traffic law stems from a number of Road Traffic Conventions to which all central European countries are signatories. Over the years since ratification, a plethora of rules and regulations have flowed from the individual European countries, including the UK.
However, each Country still retains its own legal system, laws and regulations some of which are more unique than others, both in content and interpretation, and in regional and local enforcement.
In consequence, the position of the UK motorist driving on the European Continent can be a veritable minefield of problems, particularly regarding the carrying of motoring accessories such as those relating to emergency and breakdown equipment which are required by law.
Somewhere, in the small print of most Motor Insurance Policies, is a statement to the effect that it is the driver's responsibility to ensure that the vehicle complies with the law and is roadworthy for the Country he intends to visit. Failure to discharge this responsibility could result in the Company repudiating liability under the Policy.
Failure to Comply
In the event of prosecution and conviction for failure to comply with the legal requirements, the courts in all EEC countries have wide powers to impose swingeing penalties, and the arresting officers have extensive powers to impose "on the spot fines".
On the Spot Fines
The moment these are demanded, they have to be paid in cash, in the local currency, to the arresting officer. Credit cards or travellers cheques are not accepted, and in some countries inability to pay, risks impounding the driver's vehicle until the fine is paid.
The aim of this information is to ensure that you are advised as to the road safety equipment and the European requirements for driving in Europe.
Headlamp Beam Adaptors
Your vehicle's headlamps are specifically designed for driving in the UK on the left hand side of the road. Consequently, when driving in Europe on the right, your headlamps will dazzle oncoming drivers. This is dangerous and illegal. When driving at any time, day or night, this dazzle must be prevented by adapting your headlamps.
Required by International Law to indicate Country of Registration.
Spare Bulb Kit
All lamps, including lenses and reflectors must be in working order, even during daylight hours.
Failure to be in a position to replace a blown exterior bulb could result in temporary cessation of your journey and/or a spot fine.
If your vehicle breaks down or is involved in an accident you must give prior warning to approaching traffic by placing a Warning Triangle 50 - 150 metres behind your vehicle.
The use of Hazard Warning Lights alone is NOT sufficient as they cannot always be seen far enough ahead to give advance warning.
Two Warning Triangles are required for Spain.
First Aid Kit and Fire Extinguisher
The European Good Samaritan Law requires every driver to stop and provide assistance when encountering an accident or incident, providing it is safe to do so.
This may require a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher and it is therefore strongly advisable to carry these items when driving in Europe.
Roadside assistance, or leaving a stranded vehicle, should always wear a reflective vest to ensure their own safety. This is becoming a legal requirement in an increasing number of European countries.