Driving Abroad? Know these Driving Regulations!
Did somebody say road trip?! Driving abroad through Europe, or perhaps beyond, may be one way to avoid crowded airports and bus stations this summer. Cruising around at your own leisure, stopping for an Italian coffee on the way, and finding unexpected treasures whilst heading to your ultimate destination, are just a few of the things that make a road trip so memorable.
Besides keeping in mind to drive on the right-hand side of the road in most European countries besides the Channel Islands, Ireland, and the UK, as well as Malta of course, there are a lot of other things to take note of when driving abroad. Traffic signs may differ slightly from one country to another, speed limits vary widely, as well as whether they are displayed in the imperial or metric systems.
Here are some top tips to look out for, when driving abroad:
Alcohol Limit when Driving Abroad
Whilst we never recommend drinking and driving, it’s worth noting that Malta has a maximum blood alcohol content of 0.8 g/l which is higher than most countries, and significantly higher than those such as the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Romania where the limit is 0.0 g/l. Make sure you know the legal alcohol limit in each country you intend on driving through, or better yet, leave out the drinks altogether.
Helmets for Bikes and Motorbikes
An alternative to driving through Europe this summer is cycling or, in the spirit of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, motorbiking your way through idyllic countryside. Whilst helmets are an important accessory to be worn even if they are not mandatory, check out the regulations in each country you intend on visiting. Whilst in Malta helmets are not required for bicycles except for in the case of power-assisted bikes or for children, in Liechtenstein and Switzerland helmets must be worn for bicycles if going over a certain speed, and in Slovakia, helmets are mandatory outside built-up areas.
Speed Limits Differ when Driving Abroad
Make sure to check the speed limit of each country you visit in correspondence with the type of road travelled, as besides being dangerous, exceeding the speed limit can see fines in many cases, for example in countries like Switzerland, that are quite costly. In countries like France where the speed limit is quite high at 130km/hr on some motorways when compared to Malta, the speed limit is actually reduced by around 25% in rainy conditions and to less than half in case of low visibility.
Other Rules to Take Note Of
In Austria, it is mandatory to use winter tyres, whilst in Belgium, motorbike riders and passengers must wear protective clothing such as gloves, boots, long trousers and a long-sleeved jacket. In Bulgaria daytime running lights are required, whilst in Lithuania, although not technically driving-related, it’s good to know that pedestrians can be fined for using their mobile phone when crossing the road.
Green Card and Insurance for Malta and Driving Abroad
Whether driving in Malta or abroad, you need to be covered by adequate insurance. If you are driving your personal car or motorbike within the European Union (EU) or any country within the European Economic Area (EEA), a Maltese insurance certificate is valid proof of your third party liability insurance cover. For those insured with Third Party, Fire and Theft, or Comprehensive cover, a Green Card from your insurance provider is required in order to maintain the same level of cover when travelling within the EU or EEA. Make sure to advise your insurance provider of the dates of travel, destination countries, and who the driver/s will be. At Laferla, we can provide you with a Green Card for up to 30 days a year for a private vehicle at no extra charge.
If you are travelling with your own car on new or unknown roads, a breakdown is the last thing you need. Make sure that you have breakdown assistance. For example, at Laferla we offer free 24/7 Roadside Assistance and Breakdown Service anywhere in Europe. Depending on the policy and its conditions, whether you have a flat tyre from driving on a new and perhaps not particularly well-paved road, or whether you need to tow your vehicle following an accident, Laferla is there to help. Policyholders can call our 24/7 Call Centre on 2248 0202 in case breakdown assistance is required.
For specific traffic rules for each European country, visit the European Commission website here.