1 million Brits risk lives with foreign driving errors

1 million Brits risk lives with foreign driving errors
1 million Brits risk lives with foreign driving errors

An estimated one millions British motorists have risked their lives by straying on to the wrong side the road while driving abroad in the last five years.

With Spain the number one holiday destination for Britons insurer Churchill recently looked at motorists’ experience on Spanish roads and found many drivers had either had near misses or been involved in accidents while on holiday.

Two per cent of respondents said they had accidentally driven on the wrong side of the road in Spain in the last five years – extrapolated across the nation’s 51 million drivers that’s one million motorists getting it wrong in Spain alone. Thirteen per cent of drivers questioned said they had been involved in a near miss on the country’s roads and eight per cent said they had actually been involved in a collision.

Costly mistakes

The study also found high levels of misunderstand and ignorance around the requirements and laws around driving in Spain that could lead to fines and prosecution.

More than half were ignorant of the basic equipment they are required to carry in their car. Only 39 per cent were aware of the legal requirement to carry a high-vis jacket and headlamp beam deflectors and only 38 per cent new they must have a set of spare lightbulbs and the tools to fit them. Other lesser-known rules include the need for two warning triangles and for drivers to wear glasses to have a spare pair in the car.

Fewer than half realised that using speed camera detectors or failing to indicated when changing road position could lead to a run-in with authorities and on-the-spot fines of hundreds of euros.

Steve Barrett, head of car insurance at Churchill commented: “It is important that any British drivers taking to Spanish roads read up on local traffic laws.

“That so many motorists have veered onto the wrong side of the road when on holiday in Spain is very worrying and it’s lucky there haven’t been even more accidents.”

Drivers who are involved in an incident could also be in for a shock if they have, like a third of those questioned, assumed their UK insurance policy automatically provides comprehensive cover abroad. In fact, while most insurers will issue a green card upon request, this only provides the minimum level of cover in the country and is often the equivalent or less than third party cover in the UK. And if drivers don’t inform their insurer they’re going abroad they won’t be covered at all, leaving them open to prosecution for driving without insurance as well as liable for the costs of any incident.

Steve Barrett added: “Drivers may assume there are few differences between driving in the UK and mainland Europe but traffic laws across the continent are very different and if they aren’t prepared they could risk putting themselves and other road users in danger.”


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