Tag Archive | "driving abroad"

Take The Safe Route To Europe


From time to time we at Motor Blogger like to offer some hints and tips to help you on your automotive way. We don’t profess to know better – we’re just trying to help. This time, because we know that some of you will be driving in foreign countries, possibly for the first time, we politely offer some tips for driving abroad. Remember, they do things differently over there.

The weather in the UK hasn’t been great but at the time of writing this piece it seems like British Summer has finally arrived. This is probably too late for you if you have booked to head for somewhere with guaranteed sun.

roam1 Take The Safe Route To EuropeFirst off – prepare your car beforehand. An easy way to do this is by taking your car in for a service, if it’s due, but there are also checks you can make yourself. Obviously you should be doing this routinely anyway but always check tyre pressures – you never know what tyre gauges will be like at your destination – and tread, as well as topping up oil and coolant.

Going on a touring holiday means that you will be using your vehicle for long periods of time, that’s a given; therefore there will be attendant additional wear and tear, as well as a build-up of dirt. Make sure you make daily checks of the tyres, windscreen, mirrors and lights.

Be sure to take a comfort break after every two hours of driving to combat fatigue. This is especially true because the changes in driving conditions and rules will increase your levels of concentration especially as you will be driving on the wrong (that is the right) side of the road.

You’ll need to take appropriate documentation to comply with requirements of immigration and customs: driving licence, driving licence counterpart, vehicle registration document (V5), insurance certificate and passports (for all those travelling). You must display a GB sign on your vehicle unless your number plates include the GB Euro-symbol, assuming you remain in the Union.

Most countries require drivers to carry reflective jackets and warning triangles. Don’t forget, if you’re driving through France you are obligated to carry not one but two breathalysers. The word is that French authorities are not enforcing this but you never can tell. If in doubt about what to take, have a trawl around the ‘net and see what is required for the countries you are visiting or just passing through. Also, don’t forget to reset your headlights or risk the wrath of continental drivers!

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The Pleasures And Differences Of Driving In France


The pleasures of driving are much more enjoyable across the Channel in France than they are in the UK. In the countryside roads can disappear arrow straight to the horizon and in the mountains there are ascents, hairpins and descents to test the handling of any motor. It is only in the large towns that things can become fraught.

There is a rule called Priorité à droite. This is a fiendish way to reduce average traffic speeds and keep a whole battalion of car body repairers in work. Basically it means any vehicle joining a road from the right (roads, driveways, fields, gates, anything you can think of) has priority. On main roads you can see the sign of a yellow diamond; this means you have right of way (unless Pierre has had a large liquid lunch. Which he has). If the diamond has a black bar diagonally across it means Priorité à droite, so stay alert and keep ‘em peeled!

The French Police look intimidating as they all carry guns, but those I have met had at least a few words of English. Your editor have been stopped a couple of times. Each time Les Flics were polite and asked for my ‘permis de conduire’ (driving licence) and insurance. Note: A gym membership card doesn’t work. Another time I was stopped and asked if I had consumed any alcohol. At 10am? ‘Café seulement’, I replied neglecting to add that a stiff drink would help with their stupid rules. Note: If you have motorists coming towards you flashing their headlights it is very likely there is a police patrol ahead they may be doing routine checks or have a radar speed trap set up.

Don’t plan on repairing your own car. DIY motoring is pretty rare, en France. There are few local motor shops and Motor Factors who supply garages and the like and are not used to dealing with the average motorist, especially if his knowledge of automotive technical French is nonexistent. If your French is competent though, they will supply the right part – and then you can do it yourself.

So remember: driving in France is great; plenty of open roads and many, many places to explore, but it’s another country and they do things differently there. You’ll need warning triangles, high-viz jackets (which must be accessible within the cabin) and even a pair of home breathalysers for self testing, although it’s fair to say that, although it is law, the police don’t seem overly concerned.

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