Driving abroad: What to do following a breakdown or an accident

How many holidaymakers know the regulations of the country they are driving in should their vehicle breakdown?

Hiring a car or taking your own vehicle abroad is becoming increasingly common for British travellers who want to see the most of the country they are visiting using the most convenient form of transport available to them.

However, some holidaymakers do this on a whim and fail to research the rules and regulations in the country prior to their trip. So what would they need to know if their vehicle broke down or if they were involved in an accident?  

Although not compulsory in the UK, in the majority of European countries it is a legal requirement to carry a warning triangle in your vehicle and, should you breakdown, place it a specific number of metres from your car depending on whether you are on a motorway or not. Some popular holiday destinations where this is compulsory include Spain, France, Italy and Denmark.

Reflective jackets are also commonly compulsory by law in EU countries for any vehicle with more than two wheels. Travellers taking their own car abroad must purchase the jackets and have them in the vehicle, and those hiring vehicles should check if warning triangles and reflective jackets are supplied as this will differ for each car hire supplier. Furthermore, in France it is illegal for a reflective jacket to be kept in the boot as it has to be within reach of the driver without them exiting the vehicle first.

Although it is not a legal requirement in all countries to phone the emergency services following a minor accident, it is highly recommended you do so if in a foreign country. Even where there is minimal damage to a vehicle it will be useful to have a police report for insurance purposes, particularly if it is a hire vehicle.

Briony Fairbairn of advises holidaymakers to check T&C's before making any trips. She said: "Many car hire suppliers do not allow people to take their cars to garages to be repaired without their approval as they tend to have their own mechanics that they prefer to have check their vehicles. It is extremely important to know before travelling what the countries specific regulations are regarding breakdown and accidents and also to confirm, if hiring a car, the rules your supplier has in place."

Briony added: "Those taking their own car abroad are urged to organise European breakdown cover before travelling, and people hiring vehicles must check there is some form of breakdown cover for them too. In some cases this can be purchased via a third party, which could even save you money while still ensuring you're covered should anything happen. Finally, make sure you carry the information supplied by your breakdown cover or insurance provider so that you have the important contact numbers at hand."


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