Hidden dangers of driving abroad

European legislation could catch out up to two thirds of GB drivers overseas this summer.

A survey by the AA discovered that many UK drivers are unaware of the valid registration documents needed to take a company or leased car across the channel, with more than a half admitting they’ve been penalised at least once driving abroad.

The AA has told motorists planning on leasing a car during the summer holidays that not only are there the standard rules and regulations on driving abroad, but drivers of leased vehicles must notify their leasing company, as the owners of the vehicle, prior to travel to obtain a Vehicle on Hire certificate and a letter giving written permission needed to drive their car overseas.

With the increasing popularity among individuals of cars purchased under Personal Contract Purchase (PCP), LeasePlan UK predicts thousands of British motorists could be unaware of the rules and regulations that comply with European Legislation.

Lesley Slater, operations and business development director, said, ‘Last year we took 6,817 calls from our customers requesting permission to take their vehicles overseas. On average, 4.2 million Britons travel to Europe each year and with the growing popularity of leasing in the UK, we believe thousands of motorists could be falling foul of European legislation when driving across the Channel this year.

‘We urge drivers who lease their car to contact their vehicle management company prior to travel to avoid stiff financial penalties or even imprisonment. It’s also worth calling your breakdown provider to ensure you have European breakdown cover, otherwise a repatriation of a vehicle can end up costing more than the holiday itself.’

Stuart Thomas, head of fleet services at The AA, added, ‘With so many people taking their cars abroad now, it is essential to ensure that you have the right cover for your trip. This means checking both the vehicle being covered and the countries to which your policy applies. The last thing you want on your adventure is to be stuck by the side of the road or facing an unplanned recovery bill – because anything can happen.

‘If in doubt, give your breakdown provider a call in advance of the trip and they will usually be able to get your details checked and amended within a matter of minutes. It is also important to notify them if you are planning to take a trailer or caravan with you, as most policies will not cover this as a default. You don’t want the recovery driver to unhitch your caravan and all of your holiday possessions because you forgot to add it on to the breakdown cover.’