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Preparing to Drive Abroad


Driving in foreign countries can be a daunting experience, as there will be different traffic laws to contend with compared to the UK. Make sure you are prepared for the challenges of driving before you get away with this helpful checklist from Dexel Tyre & Auto Centre.


Drive on the Right Side of the Road

You should bear in mind that a great deal of countries drive on the right hand side of the road, and this can be incredibly daunting if you have never done so before. Double check which side of the road the country you are visiting uses and make sure that you feel confident to drive accordingly.

Before you go – If you are planning to take your own car to a country that drives on the opposite side of the road, purchase headlight convertor stickers to avoid dazzling other road users with your lights at night.

When you are there – take great care when negotiating roundabouts and overtaking as these tasks can be difficult the other way around!

Prepare your Paperwork

Before driving abroad, it is important that you have all the necessary documentation in place. Make sure that you are legal to drive where you intend to and that you have the correct permits you need. If you are driving your own vehicle, make sure that you have with you all the documentation that you need.

Before you go – As well as all necessary driving paperwork you should ensure that you are insured to drive abroad. You can buy insurance when you are abroad, but it is far less stressful to check all the small print before you head off.

When you are there – Keep all of your documents and phone numbers for your insurance and breakdown cover providers with you whenever driving in case you are required to produce them.

Learn the Laws

Different countries will have different traffic laws in place and it is important that you abide by them! Fully research everything you need to know to keep yourself legal including what you are required to carry in your vehicle, whether you must display a ‘GB’ sticker on your car and any speed or parking limitations.

Before you go – Read up as much as you can! The AA and the Foreign Office websites both supply useful information about the road laws and regulations you need to abide by.

When you are there – Stick to all laws you have learnt and follow all signs that you see, even if other motorists are not. Observe all the rules, even if you think that they are unnecessary.

Check the Road Sign Symbols

Most road signs are fairly self-explanatory, but as they can vary between countries it is important that you understand the information they are conveying!

Before you go – Check whether speed is displayed in miles or kilometres and research the road signs that you may encounter.

When you are there – Obey all signs that you encounter and it might be a good idea to carry a phrase book in the situation that you need to translate a linguistic sign, such as parking information.

Map Out your Route

Whether you intend to stick to highways or only use the car to nip to the beach, you should always map your route out first. Make sure you have an idea of where you are going and carry a paper map with you. Whilst sat navs are useful, they are illegal to use whilst driving in some countries, so a paper map could prove to be a helpful back up.

Before you go – Purchase up-to-date maps of the areas in which you wish to travel and research whether or not tolls are in force. If they are, you should figure out how you will pay your tolls before you go.

When you are there – Double check your map before you set off on any journeys and remain calm if you do end up veering away from your route. Always have change handy, just in case you do find yourself on a toll road that you have not already paid to use.

Stay safe when driving abroad this year!

If you have any queries about getting your vehicle ready for a long journey, simply contact your local Dexel Tyre & Auto Centre where one of our specialists will be happy to provide more advice.

Driving Distractions


Driving requires your full concentration in order to keep you and your passengers safe. Looking away, even only for a moment, could cause an accident as you could miss something on the road or even veer to the side.

Being distracted when driving is extremely dangerous and is taken very seriously by the police. As an attempt to deter motorists, police in England and Wales have announced that they will be conducting a week long crackdown on motorists who use their mobile phones when driving*.

Despite this, many motorists continue to drive while focusing on something else. Some of the most common driving distractions include:

Answering a Call

distractions-1 With the onset of hands free kits and many newer cars being built with bluetooth, there is no excuse for answering a call when driving. The Department of Transport figures show that 492 accidents in 2014 were caused by mobile phones, 21 of which were fatal**. To avoid temptation, you should invest in a hands free kit or turn your phone off when you are driving.

Sending a Message

distractions-2 Messaging, or using apps on your phone, is one of the biggest causes for danger on the road. Sending a message takes at least five seconds and taking your attention away from the road for this long is highly dangerous. As well as being a threat to your safety, using a hand held mobile phone is illegal and can result in 3 penalty points and a fine of £100, although under new legislation coming in to force in 2017, you could be punished by 6 points and a £200 fine**.


distractions-3 Changing the radio station or flicking through a music app on your phone can take your attention away from the road and cause you to lose control of your vehicle. In addition, loud music can be distracting for drivers and research has shown that loud music can delay reactions by 20%, which is long enough to cause an accident***.


distractions-4 Eating takes attention and so if you eat when driving your full attention will not be on the road. A study by Goodyear has shown that as many as 48% ‘near misses’ amongst young drivers were caused when the driver was eating****. Eating behind the wheel can even be punishable by law, as some hungry motorists have found themselves charged with driving without due care and attention.


distractions-5 Smoking when driving can be highly dangerous, as motorists will only have one hand available to steer with and reactions will be delayed. In addition, lighting a cigarette or disposing of ashes take a drivers eyes from the road for a number of seconds. In addition, smoking in cars with a person under 18 or in a company car is illegal and punishable by a fine.


Whilst you may keep your hands on the wheel, daydreaming or switching off when driving is one of the most dangerous distractions. When you are lost in thought, your actions become automatic and it will take you longer to react to anything unexpected.




What to Do If You Breakdown

Be Prepared

In the best case scenario when breaking down, you would have everything that you need to hand, however, this isn’t always the case. Ease the stress of a potential breakdown by packing these useful items in the boot of your car. Hopefully, you won’t need to use them, but if you did, it would make the situation easier to manage!

  • High visibility vest – so you can be seen if you have to leave your vehicle on a busy road or motorway.
  • Warning triangle – to alert other drivers that you are in difficulty on the road.
  • First aid kit – in case of emergencies.
  • In-car phone charger – to keep your mobile phone battery topped up in case you need to contact the emergency services, your breakdown provider or family.
  • Bottled water – to drink or to replenish your engine coolant if overheating is the cause of your breakdown.
  • Blankets – to keep warm in case you have to wait a long while for your vehicle to be recovered.

You can also plan ahead by checking your tyres and engine fluid levels every three weeks and ahead of long journeys.

Roadside Breakdowns

Breaking down whilst driving can be a stressful experience, but you need to prioritise the safety of yourself, your passengers and other road users. You can do this by trying to pull over and park somewhere that will cause as little of an obstruction as possible. Once parked, switch on your hazard warning lights so as to warn other traffic that you are in difficulty.

If it is safe, set up a warning triangle 50 yards behind your vehicle and put on a reflective jacket. If you can, and it is safe to do so, you may carry out repairs to your vehicle, but remain aware of traffic at all times.

Ensure that all passengers are in a safe place away from the road, at least a few metres from the vehicle, and use your mobile to call for help if required. If you are on a busy road or you were forced to park in a dangerous position, such as on the brow of a hill or around a bend, you should call the police who will be able to set up traffic alerts to help divert traffic and prevent potential accidents.

Breaking Down on the Motorway

If your vehicle breaks down when you are travelling on the motorway, you must get off as soon as possible. If it is an emergency, you can use the hard shoulder, if not, you should pull in to the next service station you come to.

It is illegal to use the hard shoulder for anything other than an emergency, but if this is your only option you should pull on to it safely and stop as far to the left as possible, positioning your wheels so that they all face left.

You should then put on your handbrake, hazard lights and side lights and safely exit the vehicle using the left hand doors. All passengers should exit the vehicle safely and wait on the bank, behind the barrier, away from the road. You should put on your reflective jacket, if you have one, but never attempt to repair your vehicle or set up a warning triangle on a motorway.

Phone for assistance using your mobile phone and also inform the police of your breakdown.

Common Reasons for Breaking Down

Common causes of breakdowns include the following:

  • Battery failure
  • Tyre blowouts or punctures
  • Running out of fuel
  • Engine failure

To safeguard against breaking down, Dexel Tyre & Auto Centre would recommend having a car service at least every 12 months, or 12,000 miles, whichever comes soonest. Take a look at all of the car servicing options available at Dexel Tyre & Auto Centre here.

For further advice on what to do in case of breaking down or to have any components of your vehicle checked, simply contact your local Dexel Tyre & Autocentre branch.

What to Carry in your Car this Summer



The potential dangers of driving in summer are often underestimated or overlooked, but with varying weather conditions and potentially more traffic on the road as people set off on summer getaways, it is important that you are prepared for all the trials and tribulations of summer driving.

To keep you safe on the road this summer, Dexel Tyre & Auto Centre have compiled a list of helpful driving essentials to carry with you when travelling and keep you prepared for whatever lies ahead.

Spare Tyre

During hot temperatures, tyre rubber is much more susceptible to wear as the heat and friction from the surface of the road can aggravate it. It is therefore important that you check your tyre pressures and visually inspect them for any damage before heading on a summer road trip. Damaged or incorrectly inflated tyres are more likely to suffer punctures or blow-outs on a hot road.

As well as checking your tyres, you should think about carrying a spare tyre or tyre repair kit with you as a precaution.

Bottled Water

Getting stuck in heavy traffic in hot weather means you run the risk of overheating your engine. To safeguard against this, you should check and top up your engine coolant before any long journeys, but as precaution always carry a spare bottle of water in your car.

If your car does overheat whilst you are driving, you should stop as soon as safely possible and allow the engine to cool down. When the bonnet and coolant container are cool enough to touch, top up with the water slowly. You should then drive to the nearest garage and have your engine looked at by a specialist and your coolant filled up with the correct fluid.

Phone Charger

It is a good idea to always carry an in-car phone charger or even a spare mobile phone with you whilst driving. This will help you to contact family or your breakdown service if you run in to difficulty whilst driving.


You should ensure that you have a pair of sunglasses easily to hand whilst driving in summer. The sun’s glare can be distracting and could potentially dazzle you, impairing your vision whilst driving.

Warm Clothes

Even if it is warm when you set off on your journey, summer weather in the UK is notoriously unpredictable so you should carry something warm and waterproof with you in case of emergency.

Be prepared for summer driving by making sure that you carry the right equipment and checking your vehicle before you set off on a long journey. For further information on driving this summer or if you would like a specialist to take a look at the condition of your tyres before you undertake any long journeys, simply contact your local Dexel Tyre & Auto Centre.