“Is this your car Sir?” Venson reminds company car drivers to be aware of current European motoring laws this summer

Driving abroad poses a number of risks and not just because residents are likely to drive on the other side of the road, warns Venson Automotive Solutions. Many UK motorists travelling for business may think nothing of driving their company vehicle abroad, but too many lack a general awareness of current European motoring laws. For example, as from January this year, British registered drivers travelling to France could receive an on-the-spot fine of more than £100 for not displaying a ‘clean air’ sticker on their windscreen.

The Crit’Air scheme aims to tackle pollution, making it a legal requirement for all vehicles – cars, lorries, motorbikes and buses – to display its anti-pollution sticker to show how much their vehicle pollutes.

Even drivers who go abroad regularly should check the local rules of the road. Motoring organisation websites such as the AA offer up-to-date motoring advice about the country they are visiting.

It’s also good practice for drivers to ensure that their vehicle’s service schedule is up to date, that they have valid breakdown cover for Europe and that they have carried out the usual vehicle maintenance checks such as oil, water, tyres and glass. This helps avoid unnecessary costs and possible fines.

Company car drivers also need to check whether they need to complete a VE103b form, an authority to travel, before they take their company car to Europe – this provides formal confirmation that the driver has permission from the owner to drive the car abroad.

Simon Staton, Director of Client Management at Venson Automotive Solutions, explains, “Many motorists are likely to drive in Europe this summer and unwittingly break the law. It’s crucial that fleet drivers familiarise themselves with the motoring regulations and laws if they are planning to drive their company vehicle abroad at any time of year. If they don’t they could find themselves having to pay a hefty on the spot fine or worst case scenario, their car could be confiscated.”


Before You Travel

  • If you’re taking your company car to Europe contact your fleet manager or fleet management company to check whether you need an authority to travel form. Processing of the forms typically take 2 weeks.
  • Even if you regularly drive abroad always check the local rules of the road before you go, as requirements can change. Visit the AA website for detailed advice.
  • Check your service schedule and if one is due make sure it’s carried out in advance of your visit to reduce the chance of expensive breakdowns while you’re abroad.
  • Check all tyres for condition, pressure and tread depth before you go. Most countries have the same requirement as the UK – a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm over the central three-quarters of the tread and around the whole circumference. Tyres wear out quickly after they get down to 3mm, so if they are this worn, think about getting them replaced before you go.
  • Before setting off on your journey make sure you have valid breakdown cover for Europe.
  • Many countries require visiting motorists to carry a safety bag. Check the AA website for country advice before you go.

While You’re Abroad

  • If stopped by the traffic police you may be asked to produce the following documents:
  • A full valid driving licence with the paper counterpart if you have the new style photo card licence
  • The original vehicle registration document V5 or a valid Vehicle on Hire Certificate VE103b
  • Current motor insurance certificate
  • A valid passport
  • Travel insurance certificate
  • In France motorways are privately managed so if you break down on the motorway your breakdown and recovery provider will probably not be able to assist you. You will need to go to nearest emergency phone and dial 17 and the official motorway breakdown service will come out to you. Once you have been towed, call the helpline for your breakdown and recovery supplier. Also from January 2017, drivers travelling to France need to be aware of The Crit’Air scheme. It aims to tackle pollution, requiring all vehicles – cars, lorries, motorbikes and buses – to display a windscreen sticker according to how much they pollute.
  • Have a second set of keys with you when you travel. This will save you time and money if you happen to lose your main set while you’re away.
  • GB stickers are compulsory within the EU unless your UK registration plates display the GB Euro-symbol (Europlates).
  • In some countries it is compulsory to use dipped headlights at all times when driving during the day. For older vehicles this can be done by using simple adhesive masks on the headlamp glass. Without adjustment the dipped beam will dazzle oncoming drivers and this could result in a fine.
  • It’s a good idea to carry spare bulbs for any lights that may be easily and/or safely replaced. Spare bulbs are a compulsory requirement in some countries.
  • Many countries require all drivers including visitors to carry hi-vis/reflective jackets.
  • There is only one safe rule – if you drink, don’t drive. Laws are strict and the penalties severe. The French government confirmed that from 1 July 2012 drivers of all motor vehicles and motorcycles (excluding mopeds) must carry a breathalyser. Although there is no current legislation demanding a fine for non-compliance you are still required to carry a self-test breathalyser when driving in France. The original official announcement stated that one unused, certified breathalyser must be produced showing the French certification mark NF. The breathalyser produced has to be in date and single-use breathalysers normally have a validity of 12 months.
  • In an emergency 112 is the European emergency call number. You can dial anywhere in the European Union in case of accident, assault or in any other distress situation.