Hiring a car on holiday? Here are 10 essential tips

Red convertible sports carIf you are planning to hire a car while abroad on holiday this summer, then these 10 tips from the IAM are essential reading and could save you from costly mistakes — or worse.

It’s common to be nervous about driving a left-hand drive car on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, but in reality it’s not too difficult if you follow these simple tips:

  1. Familiarise yourself with the rules of the road and laws of the country you will be travelling to beforehand. Driving regulations and restrictions will vary from country to county – take a look at the European Commission website for further information: http://bit.ly/1fUlidw. The AA website is also very good: http://www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/overseas/index.html
  2. Check the procedures and telephone numbers in case you are involved in an accident or if your car breaks down. . Should you commit a serious motoring offence abroad and are arrested the Foreign Office has some useful information about what to do: http://bit.ly/1giXBwX.
  3. The paper counterpart of the photo card driving licence has been replaced with an online system. You will need to generate a driving licence check code within 21 days of your hire start date. For more information, please see here: http://bit.ly/1Mes73Q
  4. When collecting the vehicle inspect it carefully. Look for any signs of wear and tear, damage to the bodywork, interiors, windscreen, wheels and alloy trims. If you spot any damage make sure the renter has marked it accurately on the car hire diagram. And if you’re unsure about anything that compromises with the safety of you and your passengers speak to the renter about getting another vehicle.
  5. Don’t forget to check the boot has compulsory equipment in it, such as a warning triangle, high-visibility jacket, spare bulbs, spare tyre and any other items legally required in the country you are driving in. If you are unsure about anything raise it with the renter promptly.
  6. If you have one, take your sat-nav with you and programme in your destination before starting your journey. However, make sure you switch off any speed camera information as it is illegal to use in many countries.
  7. Check which fuel type the car takes and make sure you know what the words for diesel and petrol are in the country you are driving in.
  8. If you’re travelling with a passenger ask them to remind you that you’re driving on the right-hand side. Take extra care at junctions – look left first and then right.
  9. You may be at risk when re-joining the main road after parking your vehicle. Always re-join the main road from the right-side as joining from the left-side could unconsciously revert you to driving on the left. Joining or leaving a dual carriageway may also confuse you – take your time and think about every manoeuvre.
  10. Driving in a different country will require your full concentration – avoid getting distracted by not even using a hands-free mobile phone and under no circumstances should you drink and drive.

Follow the tips above and you should be able to relax and enjoy your holiday. If you’ve got anymore tips for driving abroad, why not leave a comment below or tweet us @simplemotoring.

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