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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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:
|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.|
|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**.|
|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***.|
|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.|
|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.
Did you know that car batteries are the main cause of breakdowns in winter? Harsh, winter weather conditions and increased usage can be tough on batteries and if your battery is older than three years it may fail on you. Take a look at our helpful advice on preparing your car battery for winter and stay safe on the road.
If your battery has reached 3 years of age, you should have it checked before winter to make sure that it will not let you down. Book a free battery health check at your local Dexel Tyre & Auto Centre branch for a comprehensive report detailing the condition of your battery and charging system.
You should also book your free battery check if you have noticed any of the following signs:
During cold temperatures and dark evenings, we are more likely to make more use of lights and heaters and this places additional strain on car batteries. This increased usage makes batteries more susceptible to draining, and so we would advise reducing your use of electrical items. When the engine is no longer running you should switch off your heaters, lights, wipers and the radio. In addition, you can turn your heating down or off when driving whenever you can.
Over the festive period, vehicles are often left standing for longer periods of time, allowing the battery to drain. If you can, exercise your battery with a long drive to keep the battery healthy. Try to avoid taking short journeys in your vehicle, as a shorter drive will not enable your battery to fully re-charge.
If you have the facility, you should park your vehicle in a garage during winter. Cold temperatures can reduce the battery’s ability to hold charge, and leaving your vehicle standing on the drive will make the battery colder.
Never ignore problems with your car battery. If you have any concerns that your car battery will not survive this winter, make an appointment at your local Dexel Tyre & Auto Centre for a free battery check.
Every October, TyreSafe run a ‘Tyre Safety Month’ campaign designed to keep you safe on the road. The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness of the importance of tyre safety and to encourage motorists to regularly check their tyres to ensure they meet legal requirements.
Tyre tread is the rubber that covers your tyre and makes contact with the road. A new tyre will begin its life with 8mm of tread, but over time this will wear down due to general driving wear and tear. There is no time frame for tyre tread wear, so it is important that you check yours every three weeks to ensure that they remain above the legal minimum depth of 1.6mm.
Legally, your tyres must maintain a tread depth of at least 1.6mm throughout a continuous band, including the central three-quarters of breadth in the tread and its entire outer circumference.
Checking your tread depth is a simple task and can be undertaken easily at home using a 20 pence coin. Simply use the coin to indicate how low your tread is by placing it in the grooves of your tyre and checking to see that you can still see the outer band of the coin. If you can see this part of the 20 pence, your tread depth is low and could be illegal. You should replace your tyres at this point.
Driving on tyres with 1.6mm is highly dangerous and poses a huge threat to the safety of yourself, your passengers and other road users. Dexel Tyre & Auto Centre would recommend replacing your tyres once they reach 3mm, as at this point your safety on the road is drastically affected.
Tyre tread is designed to provide the tyre with grip so that it can maintain contact with the surface of the road. The more tread your tyre has, the greater your gripping abilities, so when tread decreases so does your braking capabilities and wet weather performance.
Driving on illegal tyres could be highly dangerous in wet conditions, as tyre tread provides resistance against aquaplaning. When you aquaplane, water on the surface of the road causes your tyre to lose contact with the road, making it difficult for you to control your vehicle. Tyre tread works to evacuate water from the tyre and maintain contact with the road surface, reducing your risk of aquaplaning.
According to a recent survey from TyreSafe, there have been over 5,677 casualties over the last five years, resulting in 989 people being seriously injured or killed due to tyre related incidents*.
As well as being extremely dangerous, driving on tyres with tread lower than 1.6mm is illegal and if caught you will face 3 penalty points and a fine of up to £2,500 per illegal tyre. In addition, if you were in an accident, whether your fault or not, your insurance may be invalidated if you were found to be driving on illegal tyres.
Don’t take the risk – check your tyre tread every three weeks and contact a tyre specialist if you require further advice or find cause for alarm. When your tyres reach 3mm, Dexel Tyre & Auto Centre would recommend replacing them.
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!
You can also plan ahead by checking your tyres and engine fluid levels every three weeks and ahead of long journeys.
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.
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 causes of breakdowns include the following:
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.