‘Welcome to the continent – you’ve just broken the law’

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Halfords Autocentre survey shows that thousands of Brits are unaware of new continental driving laws and are travelling to the continent illegally. Worryingly, six out of ten (59%) Brits travelling to France aren’t aware of new laws which come into force on 1st July, making it compulsory to carry two NF approved breathalysers at all times. Failure to do so results in an on the spot fine.

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Worryingly, six out of ten (59%) Brits travelling to France aren’t aware of new laws which come into force on 1st July

Worryingly, six out of ten (59%) Brits travelling to France aren’t aware of new laws which come into force on 1st July, making it compulsory to carry two NF approved breathalysers at all times. Failure to do so results in an on the spot fine. It’s not just the new breathalyser law that motorists don’t know about. A Halfords survey of UK drivers at Dover, the UK’s busiest port showed that many drivers are oblivious of the continental driving laws on compulsory equipment, driving age and alcohol limits.

Fully equipped
One in five (20%) drivers didn’t have headlamp convertors attached to their car, a legal requirement in most countries across Europe, with an on the spot fine of €100. Whilst over two thirds (74%) of motorists who wear glasses to drive, didn’t have a spare pair with them, which is a legal requirement in Spain. The research also revealed more than one in ten (12%) motorists weren’t displaying a GB sticker, despite it being a legal requirement if you don’t already have a number plate with a GB Euro symbol on it. Anyone driving in France is required to carry a warning triangle and a fluorescent safety vest. The vest should be carried inside the car and not the car boot. Failure to have these in the car can lead to a fine of €90. Other items required are a first aid kit, fire extinguisher and spare bulbs for car lamps, lenses and reflectors.

But I’ve just had my birthday
Over a third (34%) of drivers travelling to France would allow a 17 year old to drive their car, unaware that they’d be breaking the law because the legal age for driving in France is 18.

Drink up
One in ten (9%) of us wrongly presume the alcohol limit for drivers in Europe will be higher than at home, when it’s actually considerably lower in France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

The research discovered a lack of knowledge of even the simplest continental road rules, only minutes away from needing them:

  •     20% of drivers travelling to France failed to identify the French ‘Give Way’ sign – one of the most important signs on the road and the same shape as ours
  •     92% of motorists travelling to Germany were unable to recognise the German road sign for express way
  •     Almost a third of motorists (29%) didn’t know what the correct road markings were for ‘no overtaking’ in the country they were travelling to

Motoring expert and UK journalist, Mike Rutherford, said; “With over two million Brits set to travel to the continent this summer, it’s worrying to think that many of them will be driving illegally as they hit foreign shores. It’s important to check the driving laws of the country you’re travelling to. I spent some time with the Police Nationale recently and saw UK motorists breaking the law in France, often without realising it.”

Following the research findings, Halfords has put together a useful guide to driving abroad, to help UK motorists and prevent them ending up on the wrong side of the law.

Commenting on the research, Halfords spokesperson, David Sawday, said: “Summer holidays are memorable lifetime trips and we want motorists to remember them for the right reasons. Halfords can supply all the equipment motorists need and our guide tells you what you should take and the key laws to observe.”

“Motorists should also make sure their cars are fit to travel. Visit your local Halfords Autocentre to check your lights, oil and coolant levels, tyre tread and pressures.” You can find more information here: http://www.halfordsautocentres.com/tyres/

Halfords’ Guide to Driving Abroad is a pocket sized guide which provides handy hints on continental driving and guidelines to road rules in France, Germany, Spain and Italy. The free guides are available to download from http://www.halfords.com

Other findings

  •     Three quarters (75%) of motorists travelling to Spain weren’t aware of local speed limits, likewise with Italy (70%), Germany (58%) and France (44%)
  •     Over a quarter (28%) of female drivers have been fined for doing something they didn’t realise was an offence
  •     Men are savvier to European speed limits. When asked about the limits in France, Italy and Germany, more men answered correctly compared with women
  •     Male drivers (7%) have been fined more than female drivers (5%)
  •     Drivers over 40 years old are most likely to get fined abroad. 40% of drivers over 40 years have been fined compared with only 13% of drivers under 40 years

Ends

Contacts
For further information please contact:

Sam Ellis         sam.ellis(at)redconsultancy.co.uk
Anna Szulerecka    anna.szulerecka(at)redconsultancy.co.uk

Notes to Editor
Halfords carried out research amongst 500 drivers at the port of Dover during June 2012

Failure to carry two NF approved breathalysers in France results in an on the spot fine of €11
At a glance driving abroad check list:

Compulsory items to have in your car in France

  •     GB Plate or GB Euroflag number plate
  •     Headlamp converters
  •     Warning triangle
  •     High visibility waistcoat ^
  •     Spare bulbs
  •     Michelin easy grip or snow chains^^
  •     Breathalyser^^^

Compulsory items to have in your car in Germany

  •     GB Plate or GB Euroflag number plate
  •     Headlamp converters
  •     Michelin easy grip or snow chains^^

Compulsory items to have in your car in Italy

  •     GB Plate or GB Euroflag number plate
  •     Headlamp converters
  •     Warning triangle
  •     High visibility waistcoat
  •     Michelin easy grip or snow chains^^

Compulsory items to have in your car in Spain

  •     GB Plate or GB Euroflag number plate
  •     Headlamp converters
  •     Warning triangle **
  •     High visibility waistcoat ***
  •     Spare bulbs

Recommended items to have in your car in France

  •     First aid kit
  •     Fire extinguisher

Recommended items to have in your car in Germany

  •     Warning triangle
  •     High visibility waistcoat
  •     Spare bulbs
  •     First aid kit *
  •     Fire extinguisher
  •     Breathalyser

Recommended items to have in your car in Italy

  •     Spare bulbs
  •     First aid kit
  •     Fire extinguisher
  •     Breathalyser

Recommended items to have in your car in Spain

  •     First aid kit
  •     Fire extinguisher
  •     Michelin easy grip or snow chains ^^
  •     Breathalyser

Key
*Should conform to DIN13 164 standard
**Two warning traingles are required. One for infront of the car and one behind
***One for each person in the car
^ French Road Safety Department strongly advise carrying two vests (one must be in body of car, not boot)
^^ When using snow-covered road in compliance with relevant road sign
^^^ Breathalyser must be NF approved, two strongly recommended

With over 260 centres nationwide, Halfords Autocentres is the UK’s leading independent car servicing, car brakes (http://www.halfordsautocentres.com/Other-Services/Brakes/), clutches (http://www.halfordsautocentres.com/Clutch-Replacement-or-Free-Assessment/), repair, tyre and MOT test network, providing dealership quality work at affordable prices to around 650,000 customers every year, with over 8 out of 10 saying they would recommend us to a friend. Our expert service is backed with both a quality and price guarantee.

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