In the past, British motorists could leisurely enjoy Europe’s roads with little concern for penalties pertaining to the loss of their license or increased insurance premiums. But with the advent of Brexit around the corner, now is a good time for Brits to ensure that their documents are in order and are aware of the rules of the road on other parts of the continent.
Since agreements with the EU are yet to be finalised, not having the correct documents in place puts you at risk of unknowingly breaking the law. So, with the days of racing down the autobahn without any concern for potential penalties gone for the moment, it pays to know about Europe’s holiday motoring traps.
Europe’s Speed Limits
In the case of most countries, you can expect to see the same speed limits as back home in the UK. This means 30mph or 50kmph in most developed areas and 80mph or 130kmph on motorways. Of course, Germany’s autobahn is an exception for most of its length, but motorists should keep an eye out for red signs indicating lower speed limits.
If you’re leaving your home country of Britain for the holidays, being stopped by the police in other countries in the EU for speeding is not to be taken lightly. In many cases, the police will be able to take you to the nearest ATM if you can’t cough up what is sometimes hundreds of Euros in fines.
Those planning on visiting France might be in for an even bigger treat, as the French police can legally impound your car if you’re caught going 30mph over the speed limit. If you don’t manage to slam the brakes in time and are still seen travelling 25mph above the limit, your license can be confiscated.
Traffic fines in most EU countries need to be paid on the spot, with additional penalties if you’re unable to do so. For example, in Germany you risk having your car taken away if you can’t pay the instant fine.
If you happen to rack up any foreign driving offences, letting your insurer know can prove challenging. Applying online requires the offence code, but codes for offences committed abroad aren’t always obtainable or registered by the insurance provider. It would be wise to read up on your insurer’s policy when it comes to disclosing fines.
Thanks to the EU cross-border enforcement directive that was introduced in 2015, authorities are allowed to follow up on drivers who committed certain offences in their country. This namely includes driving under the influence, speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, using a phone while driving, going through a red light, and driving in forbidden lanes.
While Finland and Portugal are yet to opt in, the UK along with Ireland and Denmark introduced the scheme into their policies in mid-2017. Participating countries are encouraged to share the identities of offending motorists.
It’s still relatively unclear as to how this directive will be affected by Brexit and whether foreign fines can be enforced in Britain. Regardless, you can avoid any issues by simply following the rules of the road wherever you drive.