If you’re heading abroad this year, chances are you’ll be renting a car to help you get around, or even making the trip in your own vehicle.
However, it can be easy to get caught out by unfamiliar driving laws, especially when some are so different from the rules in the UK. So, we’re rounding up some of the most unusual driving laws from around the world, so you don’t get caught out on your travels.
1. You can’t carry bikes on the back of your car
For many of us, cycling is an essential part of our holiday. Whether you’re exploring new sights on two wheels or taking a leisurely ride through the city, our bikes can be a great addition to a trip. However, if you’re travelling in Portugal, you’ll need to be wary of how you transport them.
It’s illegal to carry bikes on the back of your car in the country, which means that both rear-mounted and towbar-mounted bike racks aren’t allowed. Instead, you’ll have to carry your bikes on the roof. A roof-mounted bike rack can actually be quite handy for holiday-makers, as you can still access your boot or tow a trailer whilst transporting your bikes.
If you’re not sure which model is best for you, check out our bike rack buyer’s guide for some helpful information, or pop into your local Halfords store where one of our colleagues will be happy to help.
2. You must have a tow rope or a tow bar
While they’re an optional extra here in the UK, some kind of towing equipment is a legal requirement in Serbia – you’ll need either a tow bar or a tow rope at least three metres long, to help you or another driver if you get stuck. It’s up to you which option you choose, but you’ll need one or the other at all times.
Although a tow rope can be the more convenient option, tow bars are a handy fixture to have on your car – you can transport your bike on a towbar-mounted rack, and pull a caravan or trailer, so it may be a feature worth investing in.
3. Turn off the ‘fixed speed camera’ function of your sat nav
Where: Most EU countries
Driving in an unfamiliar place – especially a foreign country – can be intimidating, so it’s no wonder that many of us use sat navs to help us get around. Most modern sat navs have a handy ‘fixed speed camera’ function, or you can pick up a dedicated speed camera detecting device, to alert you to any upcoming speed cameras so you can make sure you’re below the limit.
These devices are perfectly legal in the UK, but in many European countries, this can get you in big trouble. Radar detectors and any other devices that alert you to the location of speed cameras are illegal in France, Italy, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, and more, and their use can land you a hefty fine. You can still use your sat nav in these countries, but just be sure to turn this function off before you get there.
4. Take a spare pair of bulbs
Where: France and Croatia
There are few things worse than realising that one of your headlight bulbs has gone. In the UK, you’ll receive a fixed penalty notice fine of £100 if you drive at night with only one headlight, and you’ll need to get it fixed as soon as possible.
In France and Croatia, however, drivers are required to carry a spare pair of bulbs at all times, as well as the tools to change them themselves. Many other countries recommend you keep a spare set in the car, but it’s not a legal requirement. Again, this rule is a practical one, and it’s a good idea to keep a spare set of bulbs handy in the UK too, just in case.
If you’re not sure what bulbs you need, check out our car bulb buyer’s guide for a helping hand.
5. You must have winter tyres and snow chains
The Great British weather can be less than ideal, especially in the colder months, but Serbia’s winters are especially freezing. Because of these extreme conditions, it’s a legal requirement to use winter tyres and carry snow chains between November 1st and April 1st. You’ll find similar rules in other mountainous areas, like Switzerland, Southern Germany, and the French Alps.
This only applies if there’s snow or ice on the roads, but since it can be difficult to anticipate changes in the weather, we’d recommend swapping your tyres out anyway to be on the safe side.
We stock thousands of winter tyres in both premium and budget brands, and we can fit them while you wait at your local Halfords garage, or right on your driveway.
If you’re heading to Europe this year, take everything you need in one handy bag with the Halfords Motoring Abroad Kit. It contains items you’re legally required to carry in most European countries, like headlight deflectors, hi-vis jackets, a warning triangle, and more.
Be sure to research the motoring laws of your destination, to make sure you stay safe on the roads. You can check out our guide on Driving in Europe for more in-depth advice for driving on the continent or head to the government website for the latest regulations.