Don't leave road safety at the departure gate this summer
Our Road Safety Authority expert has strong advice this week, not just on driving abroad but on the danger of jumping on a moped in a T-shirt and shorts
Published 02/07/2014 | 02:30
WHATEVER you do this summer do NOT leave your personal safety in the departure lounge if you are heading abroad on holiday.
Road conditions are often very different to here and can change rapidly.
So it's important to take time to know the local rules of the road.
And if you are renting a vehicle, ensure that you have the correct licence and insurance.
Tragically, upwards of 200 Irish people die each year while abroad, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs. Not surprisingly a number of those deaths are as a result of road collisions.
If you are planning to travel just be aware of the risks in driving in an unfamiliar country.
It sounds pedantic and boring but you need to:
* Know the laws of the country you will be visiting.
* Know the penalties for road traffic offences too because what might be a minor offence here may be something that is treated with zero tolerance in another country.
You should also check that your licence is valid in that country.
You must be aged 18 with a full licence to drive in most EU countries, with the exception of Austria, Germany, Hungry, the UK and Norway, where a full licence holder is allowed to drive at the age of 17.
But note that learner permits are not valid outside Ireland. This means those driving abroad on a learner permit are not licensed.
The European Commission has a really useful section on its website which details some of the main rules of the road for each European country. The address is Europa.eu. They also have a handy 'Going Abroad' phone app that's worth downloading. You should check them out if you are going to do some driving while on holidays.
Don't forget that after a long flight you will probably be tired.
My advice would be to leave the driving until you have slept and rested. While some countries permit a level of alcohol while driving, our advice is as always to never ever drink and drive; it's simply not worth the risk.
If you are planning on taking your own vehicle onto the Continent, remember that you may need to pack some extra safety equipment in the boot.
For example, since 2012 it's a legal requirement to have a working breathalyser in the car if you are driving in France.
In some EU countries you are required to carry a first aid kit, warning triangle, fire extinguisher or maybe even spare bulbs.
While abroad, good weather will provide a great opportunity to get out for some walking or cycling. If so, please make yourself visible to motorists. Wear something bright or reflective, so you can be seen even if darkness falls unexpectedly. Drivers cannot avoid what they cannot see.
You may also be tempted to hire a moped but please, please don't get up on one in a pair of shorts and a T-shirt.
It may be cooling and nice to have the breeze running through those loose fitting clothes but if you come off the bike you will hit the ground in much the same way as a block of cheese on a cheese grater. That's graphic I know but unfortunately I've seen the consequences firsthand. Medics call them de-gloving injuries. I'll leave it to your imagination.
YOU CAN GET SOME MORE USEFUL TRAVELLING TIPS ON THE DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS WEBSITE AT DFA.IE. THEY ALSO HAVE AN ACTIVE TWITTER ACCOUNT @DFATRAVEL THAT TWEETS REGULAR TRAVEL ADVICE AND ALERTS.