Over one in three (39%) Brits say they don’t like driving abroad, admitting they’re nervous about driving on the ‘wrong’ side, not understanding the road signs and finding the local drivers “crazy”.
These were some of the findings of a new Opinium survey of UK car hirers, commissioned by iCarhireinsurance.com, a leading provider of stand-alone car hire excess insurance, which found a surprising reluctance from UK drivers to driving in foreign countries.
With over two million UK citizens driving on the continent a year, the survey found that over 50% of women and 31% of men who have hired a car do not enjoy driving abroad.
Of these, over a quarter (27%) had a fear of driving abroad and over half (53%) admitted to feeling nervous about driving on the other side of the road. One in four (25%) said they were concerned that they were more likely to have an accident abroad, which is maybe not surprising when 23% said they did not understand the road signs in other countries. A further 10% of car hirers admitted to driving on the wrong side of the road by accident.
The local drivers were also a concern with over a quarter of those who dislike driving abroad (28%) saying they were worried that they would drive too fast and be “crazy”.
For Brits hiring a car abroad, the rental company may ask for a licence ‘check code’, which allows a driver to share their driving record. A ‘check code’ can be obtained here and is valid for 21 days. In some non-EU countries, drivers might also need an International Driving Permit.
To avoid paying the high excess costs of car hire companies, which can be as high as £1000* according to an iCarhireinsurance.com global study, hire car drivers can buy an independent car hire excess insurance policy from a specialist company like iCarhireinsurance.com. An iCarhireinsurance.com policy is from £2.99 a day for European cover, or £37.99 for annual cover, compared to around £20 a day** from the rental company, and it also covers vulnerable parts of the vehicle.
The AA has a useful country guide on the rules of driving in each country. Also since May 2017, a new EU cross-border directive on traffic offences means that Brits who get caught speeding in the European Union face fines of up to £640. The new law allows foreign police officers to use DVLA data to track down drivers who’ve committed a driving offence abroad.
“Driving abroad is a great way to get to know a country but it can be stressful if you don’t check the rules and regulations of the country you’re driving in,” Ernesto Suarez, founder and CEO of iCarhireinsurance.com. “Those hiring a car also need to be aware that they are responsible for the hire car complying with all local laws. In France, for instance, you can face an on-the-spot fine if you don’t carry reflective jackets, a warning triangle and a breathalyser.”