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Auto advice: Driving abroad this summer? Our motoring editor answers your questions on travelling safely

From checking your breakdown cover to knowing each country’s rules of the road, how to get organised before you depart on a roadtrip abroad

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"It is best to stay on busy roads for the first few days and be particularly careful on lonely roads." Stock image

"It is best to stay on busy roads for the first few days and be particularly careful on lonely roads." Stock image

"It is best to stay on busy roads for the first few days and be particularly careful on lonely roads." Stock image

Should I get my car serviced before I set off? If your car is due a service do not put it off until you return but even if it has been recently serviced, it’s a good idea to check your car before setting off, ensuring the oil, screen wash, coolant and tyre pressures and tread depth are at correct levels and wipers aren’t worn down. And don’t forget to check the spare tyre too. Remember you will also need headlight converters so you don’t dazzle oncoming drivers.

What documents do I need to bring?
Ensure your driving licence and passport are up to date and keep a photocopy of each with you, as well as copies of other important documents separate from the originals. 

Do I need to notify my insurance company?
You should always check with your insurance company that you are covered to drive, particularly if your chosen holiday destination is outside of the EU. Generally, when driving in an EU state your car insurance will give you the minimum level of cover required but this could change depending on location, so it’s best to check your policy well in advance of your trip.

Also, your car insurer may offer European breakdown cover but again you need to check this before you leave and if not, you should consider getting separate breakdown cover.

Are there different laws about what I need to carry in my car?
Road conditions and driving laws abroad are often quite different to home so it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the country’s rules of the road before you leave. In Sweden, for example, it is illegal to drive without headlights on, even in daylight. In most EU countries, it’s compulsory to have an emergency kit in your car with a high-vis vest for each occupant and a warning triangle.

Any tips for driving on the other side of the road?
One of the easiest things to forget when planning a trip is that most European countries drive on the right-hand side of the road, unlike Ireland. It is best to stay on busy roads for the first few days and be particularly careful on lonely roads, after taking a short break and early in the morning. Also when overtaking pull out slowly and enlist the help of your passengers. Give yourself plenty of time and space and always approach junctions and roundabouts with caution.

Top tip: Children need to have access to drinks or snacks so make sure they are easy to reach, handle and hard to spill. Bite-sized snacks packaged in individual containers are the easiest and safest to deal with while on the road.

Got a question? Email sundaymotors@independent.ie

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