The unusual European road rules
- If you’re driving in Denmark you need to check for children under the car before driving, and headlights are required to remain on both day and night in Sweden, Norway and Iceland
- Lack of awareness of European road rules could void travel insurance cover, see you fined or even land you in trouble with local authorities
New research from comparison site Mozo has found that Australians planning to drive during their next European holiday should study up on local road rules to avoid being caught on the wrong side of the law. While packing sunscreen, swimmers and sunglasses makes sense, be sure to leave some room for a first aid kit, breathalyser and a hi-vis jacket.
“Holiday research often includes where to dine, tourist hotspots and the best place to book accommodation, but if you intend to drive while in Europe it’s crucial that you’re up to speed with local road rules. While the basics like ensuring you know what side of the road to drive on are imperative, many European countries carry quirky road rules that are easy to miss,” says Kirsty Lamont, Mozo Director.
“You can unwittingly void travel insurance if you break local road rules, not to mention the risk of landing on the wrong side of the law or endangering lives. For example, in Scandinavia you must leave your headlights on day and night and in Russia, Bulgaria and Belarus it’s illegal to have a dirty car. In Denmark, you must to check to see if there are any children under the car before driving.”
While some driving requirements may seem quirky and unnecessary, many rules have been implemented due to cultural driving norms, local road conditions, weather and daylight hours. Some countries have more unusual rules than others – in Cyprus you’re not allowed to eat or drink (including water) while driving, and some one-way streets in Spain have the rule that you must park on the side of the road with even house numbers on even days, and vice versa on odd days of the month.
France, Germany and, Spain all require you to carry a reflective jacket and a hazard warning triangle in case of emergency while both France and Germany have designated ‘clean air’ zones where you must display a clean air sticker on your windscreen. Failure to do can result in swift fines.
In Finland, the speed limit drops by 20 km per hour in the winter and in Serbia you must carry a minimum of three metres of rope in your car. Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Estonia and Hungary all have a zero-alcohol limit for driving, something useful to know before driving to a restaurant and enjoying a glass of wine.
“Pleading ignorance to local road rules will do little help you, so be sure to study up if you plan on driving while on holiday in Europe. Some rules, like not being able to wash your car on Sundays in Switzerland, may seem light hearted but failing to have a length of rope or hi-vis jacket when instructed could leave you in the lurch,” says Lamont.
“Call your travel insurer and find out what your level of cover is for driving a car overseas. Understand exactly what your policy covers and be confident about what the local road rules are. Then you’re free to sit back and enjoy the roadside scenery.”