So, you’ve decided to drive in Europe. Here are some good driving tips: what’s mandatory and what’s not, cell phone use etc.
EUROPEAN ROAD SIGNS
- Triangular means danger. The symbol indicates what type of danger.
- Circular means instructions, e.g. two cars in a circle: passing is prohibited.
- Square means information, like a sign for a parking or a hospital.
ALCOHOL and driving
In Europe maximum limitations of alcohol use are different for every country.
In Czech Republic, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia the limit is 0 pro mille. In Norway, Poland and Sweden it’s 0.2 pro mille. In Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Macedonia, Italy, Latonia, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Turkey it’s 0.5 pro mille. Great Britain, Ireland, Luxembourg and Malta the maximum is 0.8 pro mille. Keep in mind, these can always change!
CELL PHONES and driving
The use of hand-held cell phones while driving is prohibited in many countries.
Reflective SAFETY VEST
There are new regulations in Europe about wearing a reflective safety vest on the site of a breakdown or accident.
It’s not a European rule, so it depends on the country your in. Some countries it’s mandatory, others it’s not.
These rules are not mandatory for tourists. However some foreign police aren’t aware of the exclusion of tourists. So in order to avoid a lot of hassle of getting your money back, the European Commission advices to have it in the car. When you rent a car, ask for it.
(It’s already mandatory in following countries: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, France, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain. More countries are also considering this rule.)
This is compulsory in several countries. The triangle must be place in the event of an accident or breakdown of the car.
In many countries they expect you to pay toll. Sometimes through toll booths or through a toll label/vignette/sticker/permit you put on your vehicle. Countries are Austria, Czech Republic, Croatia, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and the United Kingdom.
In following countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland, they work with a vignette you fix on your car’s window. These are valid for a certain period of time. In Switzerland there’s only a one year vignette. The other countries have shorter periods. You can buy these at the border or at larger petrol stations.
Check this website for tolls in the country you’re visiting.
On this website website you can select ‘International travel’ and than ‘Country Specific Information’. If you choose the country you’re visiting, you can find tips on ‘Traffic safety and road conditions’ (as well as other information on crime, medical insurance…)
- Everything is measured in kilometers, mileage and speed limits. Except Britain which is in miles.
- At the gas pump the prices are indicated per liter and NOT per gallon. Don’t be surprised to pay the bill! One gallon = approximately 3.8 liters. So, for a quick estimation, multiply by four.
TIPS WHEN RENTING A CAR IN EUROPE
- Contact your own car insurance or card company at home to find out if they cover driving a rental car abroad. It’s always a good idea to take insurance with the car rental agency when you’re renting a car.
- Ask for an automatic if you prefer this. Most of European cars are manuals.
- European cars are smaller than American cars.
- In most countries the minimum age for driving a car is 18. If you want to rent a car, inform yourself what the minimum age limits for hiring a car are (usually between 20 and 23). And if there are maximum age limits, these can vary between 65 and 75.
- Check if you need a reflective vest in the country you’re about to visit and if it’s provided by your renting car company.
- Ask them if there is anything you have to keep in mind, they’ll probably have some good driving tips as well!
Related to good Driving Tips:
Is your countries driver’s license sufficient to drive abroad?
Driving abroad: general information
Car driving tips in the UK
This is so helpful! The only times I have driven abroad were on scooters in rural areas — but I would love to do a real European road trip someday! What a great guide!
Joe W says
great tips, i haven’t been on that side of the world yet but i am hoping i will be soon and i will surely follow your advice, cheers! 🙂
I think it is now mandatory to have a breath testing kit as well in some countries. Worth checking anyway!
That`s the first time I`ve heard that…interesting. Will have a look around.