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Sainsbury’s : study shows Brits should be more aware when driving abroad

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New research from Sainsbury’s car insurance shows British drivers have a tendency to not know or understand the driving laws in the countries they visit. The result is for example 2.2 million drivers hitting the road on the wrong side.

The supermarket bank’s research found that, in the past five years, 13% of Britons driving abroad have done so on the wrong side of the road. Men are more than three times as likely as women to drive on the wrong side of the road, with 1.76 million men admitting to this, compared to 483,000 women.

A further 1.3 million Britons admit to driving the wrong way up a one-way street while abroad, with 880,000 British drivers saying they have breached driving laws in foreign countries after misreading road signs and 520,000 claim to have been stopped by police for speeding. In addition 419,000 drivers have been involved in a motoring accident while overseas.

Ben Tyte, Head of Car Insurance at Sainsbury’s Finance said: “Drivers taking their cars abroad need to prepare, not just because they’ll be driving on the other side of the road, but because laws differ from country to country.

“While the Channel Tunnel and numerous ferry crossings make it easier than ever to take your car abroad, motorists need to ensure they have a suitable insurance policy to cover them while overseas and that they understand the legal requirements for driving in the country they are going to.

“Failing to do so could ruin your holiday and leave your severely out of pocket. We strongly encourage people to ensure they have adequate car insurance and breakdown assistance for their trip.”

Havoc on Europe’s roads isn’t the only concern; many of those taking cars overseas also find themselves victims of vehicle crime and other unfortunate incidents.

In the past five years, more than half a million Britons (523,000)have had their car vandalised while abroad, with 310,000 having their vehicle broken into. In addition 400,000 drivers have lost their car keys.

When it comes to covering the cost of these incidents, 6% said while they had car insurance in place their policy didn’t cover the incident they faced, a further 2% had their claims turned down as they were not covered. Only 5% of British motorists successfully claimed on their car insurance while driving abroad in the past five years.

Sainsbury’s car insurance suggests the following checklist might be helpful for anyone planning to take their own car abroad:

1) Call your car insurance provider and advise them you are planning to drive abroad; doing this could mean a much smoother process should you need to make a claim. Make sure you check the level of cover you will have whilst abroad and how long you can travel for. Typically they provide fully comprehensive insurance for a few days so if you’re going for more than a long weekend make sure you ask your provider to top it up.

2) Check your car insurance policy for European breakdown assistance, some policies offer this as standard. Sainsbury’s Premier Cover offers up to 90 days.

3)Plan your route: invest in a map or use a European route planner on the internet, to ensure you know where you are going and anticipate any risks in advance.

4)Take your time: Set a realistic timescale for your journey to avoid feeling pressured to drive fast or not take enough breaks. Driving on unfamiliar roads abroad can be even more tiring than usual, so give yourself time and consider planning your route to avoid the centre of major cities where driving is likely to be most stressful.

5) Check the motoring laws for the countries you are visiting. This can be done for free at www.fco.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo . If you are going to be driving in several countries across Europe make a note of the different rules that apply in each country and take this with you.  Make sure you refer to the notes before you cross the border and enter each country.

6) Do some basic checks on your car to help minimise the risk of breakdowns or accidents, e.g.: check tyre pressures, oil, brake fluid and water levels.

Source : Sainsbury’s