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Fleet drivers must know the laws when driving abroad

22 August 2008

Fleet drivers must be better prepared before driving abroad, according to insurance giant Norwich Union.

The advice has been issued after the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said road death rates in many popular destinations were ‘significantly higher’ than in the UK.

Its research reveals that many motorists set off totally unprepared despite 66% having previously experienced problems such as an accident, getting lost or car crime.

Findings also show that only 37% of people check the local driving laws of their destination before leaving the UK, and less than half (41%) remember to take their driving licence and car registration documents.

Mike Smith, commercial motor technical manager for Norwich Union, said: “Cross border drivers pose a higher risk than resident drivers due to poor driving standards, long distances that are often driven and a lack of knowledge of local road laws.

“Fleet managers should check who will be driving a fleet vehicle abroad, carry out appropriate driving licence checks to ensure that they are legally entitled to drive and do not contravene any policy restrictions, such as the age of the driver.

“It’s important that fleet drivers plan their route carefully and don’t drive whilst tired. On arrival at a destination, it can be easy to forget to drive on the right side of the road, particularly when starting a journey, so it’s important to keep thinking right.

“Headlamp beam reflectors are compulsory pieces of equipment on the continent in countries that drive on the right, to avoid dazzling oncoming motorists. Not using reflectors, overloading a vehicle, as well as being unsafe, could also incur a fine.

“It is vital that fleet drivers are aware of local driving laws before entering a country, such as checking the need for additional kit, according to individual country rules. For example, first aid kits, fire extinguishers, warning triangles and spare lamp bulbs are recommended in certain places. Carrying a warning triangle is compulsory in many European countries including Belgium, Spain, Holland, Germany and Italy. In Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria and Croatia it is also a requirement for motorists to carry reflective jackets in their vehicles.

“Speed limits vary from country to country. Before arriving, make sure you are aware of the limits and stick to them at all times. Heavy fines can be imposed for motorists who break the limits, in some cases payable on the spot. Speed-trap radar detection devices are illegal in many countries. Possession of such devices, even if they are not set up in the vehicle, can lead to fines, confiscation, and even imprisonment.

“Appropriate papers, such as a vehicle registration document, driving licence, and certificate of motor insurance should be carried by the driver at all times when driving abroad, as well as telephone numbers for their insurer in case of any emergency.

“We also advise drivers to carry a camera to record the scene of any accident, which may help in any subsequent claims dispute, along with obtaining a European accident statement.”