So you have loaded the children and what seems like enough clothes and equipment for a small army, into the car ready to head to the port when you remember, we are going to have to drive on the other side of the road when we get to France! What to do? Whether you are reading this on the ferry or weeks before you leave, there are things you can do to prepare and stay safe while in a right hand drive country.
If you plan on driving your own vehicle abroad:
1. Check with your insurer: confirm you are covered for driving your car in another country
2. Ensure you have IRL identification stickers: on your car and any trailer or caravan you are towing
3. Check your car thoroughly before you leave: as you are likely to be doing a lot of driving including:
4. Be more cautious: when you are driving a right hand car in a right hand drive country you will have very little view of the road in front of you. Our top tips are:
If you plan on hiring a car when you get to your destination we recommend:
6. Consider hiring an automatic: One of the trickiest things to get the hang of when you are driving in a right hand drive country is changing gear with the other hand. Avoid the hassle altogether by hiring an automatic.
7. Study the rules of the road carefully: there are many variations around the world when it comes to taking turns and how to react to pedestrians crossing the road as well as a more straightforward things like speed limits.
8. Know what equipment you need: in some countries there are essential items which you must have in your car. In France, for example, you must have x2 breathalysers, a warning triangle and Hi-Viz vests. There are often checks for this at ports so don’t get caught out!
9. Put a ‘drive on the right’ reminder in the car: This can be as simple as a post-it in your eye line. Just as a prompt when you are at junctions or getting to a roundabout.
10. Have a navigator if possible: if you have another adult in the car, have them read the map and direct you. This means you can focus your attention entirely on the road and are not distracted trying to read signs and work our routes.
11. Junctions and roundabouts: be especially careful approaching a roundabout or junction, especially if you are on a quiet road without much traffic. It is really easy to slip back into driving on the left or go the wrong way around a roundabout which you want to avoid at all costs.
12. Carry a map: Google maps and other GPS systems are amazing but they require power to work. Don’t get caught out while on unfamiliar roads and make sure you have a map.
13. Have money for tolls: there are far more toll roads on the continent than in Ireland so do your research and make sure you have money to hand. Tolls are more expensive than Ireland too. Check motorway toll Italy - information about toll collection, toll tunnels.
14. International drivers licence for right hand drive country: many countries, even some within the EU, require you to have an International Drivers Licence with your Irish drivers licence. It is important to check this as an international driving licence is not needed for France but required in Spain and Italy. Applying is easy but you will need:
· Photocopy of your driver’s licence
· Passport photo that you have signed on the back
· Copy of a utility bill from the last 3 months as proof of address
· Completed application form
With a little preparation driving on the right hand side of the road is not as intimidating as it first seems. If you are bringing your own car to the continent or further afield this summer, make sure it is fully insured. Get a car insurance quote today.