Staying safe in hired foreign vehicles

IAM RoadSmart gives advice to UK holiday makers intending to use hire cars to travel around on foreign roads.

Part of the excitement of taking a holiday on the continent is exploring new and unfamiliar territory, something that is made easier with the low-cost availability of hire cars in most countries within Europe.

The enjoyment of driving on foreign roads is less likely to be marred by problems if a bit of planning is done beforehand, according to Richard Gladman, the head of driving and riding standards at IAM RoadSmart. To help holiday makers plan ahead, Richard has provided the following advice:

Keep it legal – The rules of the road vary from country to country with different speed limits, drink driving thresholds and vehicle standards. IAM RoadSafe recommends that drivers familiarise themselves with the laws which apply in the destination country by checking on the European Commission’s website.

Inspect the vehicle – Always check the rented vehicle thoroughly before driving it away, with any damage or problems being pointed out to the rental office. Don’t be afraid to ask for a replacement and take photographs all round the car on your smartphone to settle any subsequent disputs should they arise.

Keep in touch – Before travelling, note down important telephone numbers in case they should be needed, including your insurance company and a breakdown recovery service. The Foreign Office website has useful advice for travellers who may get into problems.

Keep on track – Take your SatNav with you and pre-programme any destinations you know that you want to go to before you travel to save time. Speed camera warnings may need to be disabled in some countries where the use of them is illegal.

Keep the little ones safe – Don’t let the holiday atmosphere make you too relaxed about child safety in the car. Apply the same child safety rules of the UK in the country you’re travelling too. Check with the hire car company when booking if they supply good quality, appropriate safety seats and can fit them. Don’t accept the vehicle unless it has good child safety equipment installed when you arrive, if you’ve booked it.

Commenting on driving hire cars abroad, Richard Gladman said, “Always check the boot before you drive off. Some countries require a warning triangle by law. Others a high-vis jacket. Do your homework so you know what you need. And make sure you’re given it. Most importantly, enjoy the drive – happy travelling!”

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