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13 tips for self-drive success in Europe

By ​Anna Sarjeant - House of Travel

If you're embarking on a UK ​and Europe driving holiday soon, here are 13 little-known tips for self drive success.

1. Lost in France? 
In larger cities, follow the sign for 'Toutes Directions" which literally means “All Directions”. Follow these and you'll be geared towards a major roundabout or intersection - with more signposts and the (greater) possibility of re-finding your route.


2. Failing to offer assistance to a person in danger is illegal. 
In France, if you come across ANY car accident and don’t stop, you could be charged. Penalties include suspended prison sentences and fines.


3. By law, all drivers in France must have a high visibility jacket.
And ideally, all occupants too. The jackets have to be inside the car (not in the boot). A warning triangle is also obligatory for break downs. Don’t drive off without checking that you have both, because it's your responsibility, not the car rental's.


4. Left or right hand drive?
In Europe, only four countries drive on the left: United Kingdom, Ireland, Malta, and Cyprus.


5. UK motorways and dual carriageways. 
Overtake on the right only. Undertaking is illegal and no one does it (try it and you might cause an accident, or at the very least you'll cop the abuse of annoyed drivers!) Remember, always keep left, except to pass.

Self Drive Spain

6. For left hand drive.
The same rule applies – no undertaking. However, you’ll have to overtake on the left instead. Always keep right, except to pass.


7. The driver’s thank you. 
There are more than 25 million cars on the road in the UK, so a little etiquette goes a long way. If another driver gives you right of way, wave as a signal of thanks. Fail to do so can result in a narky response.


8. Flashing indicators. 
At night you might see UK drivers flashing their indicators once on each side, or a single quick flash of their full beams. Panic not, this is how British drivers show gratitude when it’s dark.


9. Smoking in your car is illegal in Greece. 
Strictly so.

SelfDrive UK

10. Yellow lines.
In Spain, if the road has NO yellow lines, it means no parking. Whereas in the UK, a yellow line means parking is strictly prohibited and the omittance of them can signal parking is allowed.

*** you can park in all directions in the UK, not solely in the same direction as the traffic. 


11. Don’t get annoyed behind the wheel in Germany. 
Abusive language and naughty gestures also carry a motoring fine.


12. Stay lit in Scandinavia. 
In some Scandinavian countries, it’s illegal to drive without your headlights on, even in daylight. Check before you push the stick into drive.


13. Spanish specs appeal. 
If you wear glasses, you’re required to carry a spare pair when driving on Spanish roads.


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