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Driving in Europe this holiday? Here are the must-know rules

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Whether you’re planning a romantic weekend away or a family fortnight on the beach, it pays to know the rules before you set off. So brush up on your local knowledge before you head for the ferry or airport to stay fine-free abroad.

You probably already know that you need Hi-Vis and a warning triangle when you’re motoring in Europe. But did you know it’s illegal to drive topless in Thailand or blindfold in Alabama, USA?

Even if you’re just heading to the Normandy beaches or the Costa del Sol, it’s worth knowing the local driving laws. That way you’ll enjoy a hassle-free holiday without falling foul of the local police.

Stay fine-free in France

If you thought you could pull off the road and take that call on your mobile, think again. Rules for using mobile phones are much stricter in France. In fact, you can only make or take a call when you’re in a designated parking space or if you’ve broken down.

And make sure your SatNav isn’t set to show the location of any speed cams because that’s an automatic fine.

Coasting on the Costas

Spain and Portugal have some of the quirkiest driving rules in Europe. In Portugal, it’s illegal to carry bikes in a carrier on the back of your car so get a roof box fitted that can take any bicycles you intend to travel with or hire when you arrive.

In Spain, you can be fined for carrying a spare can of fuel – and you can also be fined for running out of petrol on a main road. Wear glasses for driving? Then make sure you always have a spare pair in the car.

Italian eccentricity

Italy has a reputation for incredible driving, so it pays to know the written and the unwritten rules of the road. Prepare to be tailgated – any gap in the traffic won’t be there for long as Italians love to change lane and get ahead!

Always remember to drive on motorways and dual carriageways with your headlights on and dipped during the day. And get to grips with the parking laws; in built-up areas you can only park on the right hand side of a street with two way traffic.

Feeling confident? Then check your spare bulb set, make sure you’ve got your breathalyser handy, adjust those headlamp converters and hit the road to your holiday destination.

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