Half of drivers in a recent survey admitted they had been penalised for at least one traffic offence whilst travelling abroad.
Many were also unaware of the valid registration documents needed to take a company or leased car across the channel.
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 (VE103) certificate – in lieu of a vehicle registration certificate (V5C) – and a letter giving written permission needed to drive their car overseas.
LeasePlan UK predicts thousands of British motorists could be driving abroad, unaware of the rules and regulations.
Lesley Slater, operations and business development director at LeasePlan UK, 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, so the VE103 form can be processed and sent to the driver in time for the off, 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.”
Seven-point checklist for British motorists driving in Europe this summer:
1. Notify your leasing provider that you’ll be taking the vehicle abroad in advance to obtain a vehicle-on-hire certificate (VE103). All drivers who own their vehicle must be able to produce a V5 vehicle document (logbook).
2. Call your breakdown provider to check you have European Insurance Cover.
3. Consider giving your car a maintenance check before you head off to help improve fuel economy and avoid any preventable accidents.
4. Whether you are travelling for business or pleasure, fully comprehensive insurance is essential for all drivers.
5. Read up and ensure you comply with each country’s individual driving laws. Did you know, for instance, France has banned satnavs that are capable of detecting speed cameras and it’s compulsory for all cars to carry a warning triangle, a high-visibility safety vest, spare light bulbs, GB stickers or number plate with an EU logo.
6. Ensure your driving licence and passport are valid and up-to-date.
7. Travelling with kids? Check the safety and compliance rules on car seats for each country before you set off.