Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
12:00 AM 8th June 2024

Nearly Three Quarters Of Drivers Lack Confidence When Driving In Europe - AA

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash
Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash
Almost three-quarters of drivers lack confidence when driving abroad, according to a survey of nearly 14,000 AA members.

As England and Scotland’s elite footballers and GB athletes prepare to compete in two major sporting events in mainland Europe this summer (The UEFA European Championships in June and July in Germany, and the Paris Olympics in July and August) many fans from the UK are expected to show their support by making a road trip onto the continent. A second survey revealed that 38% of those attending the Euros will be travelling by car and 24% to the Olympics.

The survey showed less than one-third (30%) of drivers feel confident about driving in Europe, dropping from more than 50% six years ago. Only 17% (down from 41% six years ago) said they found driving in Europe a pleasure, and a quarter (down from half six years ago) said that they found roads in Europe to be in better condition than those in the UK. Almost a third (30%) of respondents said that they avoid driving abroad altogether.

Younger drivers (18-24) are less confident driving in Europe (6%), with the figure rising to 33% in the 65+ category. This has decreased in the last six years from 20% of younger drivers and 67% of those aged over 65.

“Before any long journey it’s important to check your car – it’s always a good idea to get your vehicle serviced before a long journey especially to a foreign country.

Slightly more people said their confidence improved when driving a hire car vs driving their own vehicle abroad (45% vs 48%), probably because it’s likely to be a left-hand drive car. The survey also showed that men claimed to be more confident than the opposite sex when it came to driving abroad.

Over four fifths (82%) said it was important to check local road rules to avoid the risk of fines or an accident. This figure is higher in younger drivers and decreases through the ages. These figures have dropped from almost 100% ten years ago.

Comprehensive European Breakdown Cover can offer peace of mind when venturing onto the continent. It can save you money, time and hassle should you experience issues with your vehicle. Of those to have experienced a breakdown abroad, only half (52%) had some form of breakdown cover in place.

If you do have car trouble while abroad, finding a reputable garage can be hard enough let alone trying to talk to a mechanic in a foreign language. The AA’s European operational centre in Lyon, France, has a 24-hour English-speaking helpline and full translation service meaning they will liaise directly with garages – on customers’ behalf.

When driving abroad there are some documents you should carry with you on your journey. Each country’s requirements vary slightly so be sure to check out The AA’s advice page if you’re planning on attending The Euros in Germany or The Olympics in France.

When driving abroad it’s important to be familiar with local driving laws – driving in Germany could be a whole new ball game for some. Make sure you drive a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you – whichever country you drive in, tailgating is likely to rate highly as an annoying driving habit, leave plenty of room between you and the car in front or risk being landed with a hefty fine.

Other things to be aware of include the requirement to form an emergency lane in the event of a traffic jam to allow emergency service access to incidents on a motorway where there isn’t a continuous hard shoulder.

Whilst driving your phone should be in a holder and then you can only look at the screen for a short period of time – the same rule applies to phones connected to a touch screen in your vehicle.

Chris Wood, AA Patrol of the Year, said:
“Before any long journey it’s important to check your car – it’s always a good idea to get your vehicle serviced before a long journey especially to a foreign country.

"Check your tyres – many countries have the same minimum tread depth as the UK (1.6mm) but if yours are down to 3mm or less, consider having them changed as they will wear quicker than normal due to the increased distances being travelled.

"Check your route and make sure you know where you able to refuel or recharge your vehicle. Also make sure you’re familiar with the driving rules in the country you’re travelling to as they may differ to the ones in the UK. For added peace of mind don’t forget to purchase European breakdown cover. ”