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Brits unprepared for Europe’s roads

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One in three motorists surveyed by RAC* are gearing up to drive in Europe this year, but research from the motoring organisation reveals that many don’t have a clue what it will cost to drive abroad or what to do when it all goes wrong.

35% of motorists surveyed have no idea what to do if they are involved in an accident and only a third know the correct number for the emergency services in Europe.

The research also revealed that nearly one in 10 motorists have been involved in an accident whilst driving in Europe and 12% have broken down.

A common misconception is that fuel is cheaper in Europe. Almost half of motorists (48%) mistakenly believe that petrol is cheaper on the continent but in four of the five most popular European driving destinations – France, Germany, Italy and Belgium – unleaded petrol is up to 23 cents more expensive per litre. This could potentially affect motorists’ fuel budgets by up to €58 (approx £50) based an average family car doing a 2,000 mile round trip.

Diesel is however cheaper per litre in all five destinations, particularly Spain where it costs approximately 25% less than in the UK, saving motorists up to €60 (approx £51) on the average trip.

David Hawes, RAC patrol manager, says: “There are benefits to driving abroad, ranging from lower diesel prices to more freedom to visit places outside of tourist centres, but as our research shows, foreign roads can be a dangerous place, so it’s always best to be prepared. It’s also crucial to swot up on European driving laws before you go to avoid any pitfalls.”

RAC’s road trip guide to Europe’s five most popular driving destinations is a good starting point:

road rule europe

UK equivalent fuel price per litre as of 24 June – €1.16 unleaded €1.22 diesel

**source Karzoo.eu 24 June 2009

*** source rac.co.uk/FCO

European Driving Styles*
A fifth of UK drivers polled fear dangerous road manoeuvres when driving in Italy and over a quarter claim to have experienced the highest levels of road rage there. The research also identified Italy as the undertaking capital of Europe with 14% of respondents saying they see “much more undertaking” than at home.

Spanish motorists are most likely to scare Brits with their overtaking, just ahead of Italy, and more excessive beeping and tooting on the country’s roads, according to the research. Nearly a third of respondents who had driven in Spain in the past, noticed increased use of the car horn there.

Germany is where motorists report the fewest incidences of driving too close (only 7% in comparison to 17% in Italy), the fewest dangerous manoeuvres and the highest levels of courtesy.

RAC research showed that motorists looking for a more sedate drive should also head to Belgium where over a quarter of respondents see much less flouting of road rules such as undertaking.

Despite negative connotations of driving styles, there is a lot of love for European roads. 51% of those surveyed would like to see the superior road quality seen in Europe echoed here. Likewise, 35% identified that there are fewer cars on European roads and 44% would like to see similarly reduced traffic in the UK. A third of motorists would also like to see better picnic and rest areas in line with those on the continent.

For more advice on driving abroad visit www.rac.co.uk or call 0800 015 6000 for details on European Breakdown Cover.