Driving Guide

Watch your speed

See our table showing the variation in speed limits (in kph unless otherwise stated) for the different countries you may be driving through. Note that these may be different in adverse weather conditions.

Country
In built-up areas
Outside built-up areas
Motorways
A - Austria
50
100
130
B - Belgium
50
90 or 120
120
D - Germany
50
100
130*
DK - Denmark
50
80
110
E - Spain
50
90 or 100
120
F - France
50
90 or 110
130
GB - United Kingdom
48
(30 mph)
96 or 112
(60 or 70 mph)
112
(70 mph)
I - Italy
50
90 or 110
130
IRL - Eire
50
80 or 100
120
L - Luxembourg
50
90
130
NL - Netherlands
50
80 or 100
120
P - Portugal
50
90 or 100
120

*Recommended maximum limit

Driving guide

Drinking and driving

It goes without saying that you shouldn't drink and drive, however note that the tolerance on the continent is more strict than in Ireland. In France for example, you're allowed 50mg of alcohol per 100g of blood and some countries have a zero tolerance meaning offenders can go to jail.

If you are travelling in France you will be required by law to carry in your vehicle at least two single use breathalysers at all times. These can be purchased on the ferry or if you are doing car hire these will be automatically included by the car hire company.

Children in your vehicle

If you have children under the age of 10 years old in your party they must be seated in the rear of the vehicle, in a correctly fitted child seat/restraint adapted to their size and weight (if between 9-15kg) or on a booster seat with a seatbelt (15kg+).

Children under 10 can only travel in the front seat if you meet the following exceptions:

  1. The seats in the back of the car are already occupied by other children under the age of 10
  2. You are travelling in a 2-seater vehicle (like a Smart Car or truck/van)
  3. There are no rear seatbelts - highly unlikely these days

If you do have a child under 10 years old in the front seat they must be in an approved carry cot or sat on an approved child seat for their size, and if this is rear-facing, the passenger-side airbag must be de-activated.

For emergencies

Use your horn only in an emergency.

112 is the emergency number to call when abroad. Check that your mobile phone network provider will allow you to use your phone while you're away (and check charges). Do not use your phone while you are driving - this is illegal everywhere.

Keep your warning triangle and flourescent jackets (for all party members) in the car. If you need to pull over in an emergency you could be fined (around €90) if you don't have these items.

Remember!

If you are on a motorbike you must wear a crash helmet and ensure that you have the correct licence and insurance to drive one. The same goes for a moped or quad bike. If you are hiring one for the day, make sure it's through a reputable company - and be sensible... you're a lot more vulnerable on 2 wheels!

In general...

  1. You must be over 18 years old to drive abroad
  2. Research into where you're going or obtaining a travel guide can make your trip so much more fun
  3. It's illegal to carry radar equipment - even if it's switched off
  4. Unless there is a yellow diamond sign, you must give way to any cars emerging from a side road on the right hand side in towns and built-up areas
  5. The last car in a queue must put on their hazard lights to indicate the queue ahead
  6. If you need to ask the driver in front to give way, flash your headlights
Driving guide

Pedestrians

As a pedestrian, remember the cars are driving on the other side of the road - so look the other way! You must use the designated crossing points as jay-walking is illegal, although note that not every car stops at a zebra crossing. Keep hold of your children's hands as they won't understand how different the roads are.

When you're walking along the road, do so facing on-coming traffic - if you can see them, they can see you. Try not to be clad top to toe in dark clothing if you're walking around at night, and if you are, carry or wear something drivers can see. Take a torch with you in case where you are walking is dimly-lit or if the ground is uneven.

Bus and coach trips

Local transport is a brilliant way of getting around to see the sights in your local area, and beyond. If you're taking an organised trip however and are unhappy with the way it looks, don't get on and speak to your courier on site.

Driving guide

...and finally!

Note that most supermarkets are closed on Sundays. If you're not sure about drinking the local water, drink bottled water instead and avoid salads, ice and non-peeled fruit unless you wash it (or freeze it) yourself from the bottle. Take provisions with you to avoid getting caught short in the car on the motorway.