As a UK driver you are no doubt well aware of the rules and regulations that affect our road using experiences at home. Elsewhere in the world however, driving laws are a little less clear cut, a fact that makes driving overseas daunting for many road users. As a leading supplier of rental vehicles, including European travel ready cars and vans, we make it our mission to provide the transportation people from all walks of life need in every scenario. Our European travel ready vehicles in particular offer ultimate peace of mind for those looking to journey overseas effortlessly. But being aware of the driving laws applicable in every country you’re travelling to and through is vital.
Each country has its own driving laws, and many of them differ vastly from the regulations we’re used to here in the UK. In this blog post however, we’re taking a closer look at the stranger side of driving laws in other countries so you can be clued up on the more bizarre rules that could impact your driving on your upcoming travels, outside of the usual GB sticker use.
Glasses wearers get it hard in some countries
In Spain, Portugal and Switzerland, it’s wearers of glasses and contact lenses that are the subject of one particular road law. As a glasses or contact lens wearer, you don’t just have to pack the usual breakdown kit, you have to have a spare pair of glasses or contact lenses with you at all times.
Drinking and eating at the wheel could get you into trouble
Across the border in France, all drivers, including those riding motorcycles, must carry a self-test breathalyser or face fines and vehicle confiscation. From testing to visibly being under the influence, even passengers in Macedonia are subject to driving laws. Those visibly drunk are not permitted to ride in the front seats of cars.
Cypriots have gone one step further, prohibiting the drinking of all drinks, including water, and the eating of all foods at the wheel. The fine for getting peckish or thirsty at the wheel in Cyrus? A hefty €85! In Greece, smoking cigarettes is also illegal when driving.
Forget everything you learnt when driving in these countries
Living like a local is one thing most travellers want to achieve to ensure an authentic experience on their trip. You may however find yourself out of your depth in some European countries when attempting to drive like one. In the Netherlands for instance, rights of way vary from roundabout to roundabout, meaning visitors must be on their guards. Over in France, the right of way of each roundabout is at least signposted for your convenience.
Right of way on roundabouts varies in nearby Germany too, with traffic on the roundabout taking priority. When driving in Germany you must also not indicate when entering a roundabout but should indicate when leaving. In Malta, drivers don’t indicate at all when changing lanes. The use of lights is another thing that differs, particularly in Nordic and Baltic countries where headlights must be on at all times, not just at night. Those driving in Slovenia should also take extra care when reversing, switching on their hazard lights as well as using their reverse lights when completing manoeuvres.
The cleanliness of your car could also cost you
Most of us are guilty of not paying as much attention as we’d like to the cleanliness of our vehicles, but in Europe you could face fines if your car isn’t clean and tidy. It’s actually illegal to drive a dirty vehicle in Bulgaria, Belarus and Russia, but don’t get the cleaning products out straight away if you’re in Switzerland or Germany. Drivers aren’t permitted to wash their vehicles on Sundays in Switzerland, whilst Sunday mornings (before midday) are also out of bounds for drivers looking to clean their vehicles in Germany. In Germany, you also can’t clean your vehicle in the street, with water and detergent running from the drive of your own property a problem.
Elsewhere in the world, things get weirder
Driving laws get even crazier outside of Europe. In some parts of the Philippines for example, you can’t drive your vehicle on a Monday if your registration ends with a 1 or 2. It’s also illegal to stop for pedestrians in Beijing, China, a law that will delight many drivers! In South Africa, the same rule applies when slowing down or stopping for herds of passing livestock. In Saudi Arabia, women have only recently been permitted to drive by law, although they could previously own cars.
Over the pond in the United States, driving laws in California are pretty bonkers. The government actually stipulates that it is illegal to jump from a vehicle travelling at 65mph, whilst an unoccupied vehicle (yes, we’re confused too!) can’t legally exceed 60mph. In addition to this, it is illegal to sleep on the road, wear a dressing gown when driving if you’re female, or shoot an animal from your vehicle, unless it’s a whale. In nearby San Francisco, it’s also illegal to buff or dry your car in used underwear.
Ready to take on driving overseas for yourself? Our full range of European travel-ready rental cars includes hire cars already kitted out for your trip abroad. Get in touch with our friendly and helpful team today to discuss your unique vehicle rental requirements.