Britons ignorant of European road rules

Article date: 20 April 2001

MILLIONS of British motorists head for theContinent oblivious to European road rules, a new study revealstoday.

Two in five holidaymakers who drive in Europe -that's more than five million motorists* - say they don't bother tofind out beforehand about driving regulations for the country theyare planning to visit, according to independent researchcommissioned by leading motor insurer Norwich Union.

Yet one in three motorists admit they don't feelconfident about the driving rules in other European countries.

The research also reveals:

  • Motorists spend more time before they set off deciding whichmap to buy than they do brushing up on European roadregulations
  • Drivers find European roundabouts and foreign road signs themost difficult aspects of driving abroad, followed by driving onthe right
  • One in seven motorists says driving abroad causes argumentswith their partner
  • Britons think the French are the worst drivers followed by theItalians

Richard Alger, market development manager, NorwichUnion, said: "Motorists heading across the Channel often have'tunnel vision', thinking only of arriving at their destination assoon as possible and getting on with their holiday.

"Yet driving on the Continent can be very differentfrom driving in this country as there are many different roadrules. One in three people say that they feel nervous beforetackling foreign roads, but a little research beforehand could helpto allay those fears and even help prevent motorists having a nastyaccident.

"Holidaymakers should also ensure they haveadequate insurance cover both for their family and their vehicle incase something does go wrong while they are away. Some policies mayautomatically include full foreign use, but you should check withyour insurer well in advance of departure."

Norwich Union's top six tips for holidaymakersheading for the Continent this summer are:

  • Plan your route carefully and familiarise yourself withdriving regulations for the countries you are visiting. If you area member of a motoring organisation they may be able to help youfind out more information.
  • Ensure your car is in good working order before starting yourjourney. It may be useful to check you have European breakdowncover.
  • Pack a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, warning triangle,headlamp beam reflectors, and spare lamp bulbs or other equipment.These are required by law in many countries. Also, if you wearglasses or contact lenses for driving, pack a spare pair in casethey are lost or damaged.
  • Talk to your motor insurer about getting additional cover foryour car on the Continent**. You will need an internationaldriving permit in certain countries and you may require a GBsticker on the back of any UK registered motor vehicle.
  • Take the telephone number of your insurer in case it isneeded.
  • Check your passport is up-to-date and get an E111 Form in caseyou are taken ill in the EU.

Norwich Union offers full travel and motor insurance for peopleplanning to drive to the Continent this summer. For moreinformation contact your broker or Norwich Union Direct on 0800 888111.

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Notes to editors

*Source: Department of Environment, Transport and Regions (DETR)Transport Statistics Great Britain 2000 Edition, and Norwich Unionindependent research (as below).

** All UK motor insurance policies provide basic third partycover in European Union countries (and in some non-EU countries).You will normally, however, want the same cover on the continentthat you have in the UK.

Norwich Union commissioned Taylor Nelson Sofres to conduct anindependent survey of more than 1,000 adults across Britain. Thesurvey was carried out in April 2001.

  • CGU plc and Norwich Union plc merged on 30 May 2000 to createCGNU plc, the UK's largest insurance group and one of the top-fiveinsurers in Europe with substantial positions in other marketsaround the world, making it the world's sixth largest insurerbased on gross worldwide premiums.
  • CGNU's principal business activities are long-term savings,fund management and general insurance, with worldwide premiumincome and retail investment sales from ongoing business of over£27 billion and assets under management of more than £210billion.
  • From October 2000, the combined life and pensions, generalinsurance and retail fund management businesses in the UK operateunder the Norwich Union brand, while the institutional investmentbusiness operates under the Morley Fund Management brand.

Norwich Union Insurance Limited Registered in England Number99122. Registered Office 8 Surrey Street Norwich NR1 3NG. Member ofthe General Insurance Standards Council. A member of the CGNUgroup.

For further information or to arrange an interview contactMatthew Buchanan or Jane Wheeler at QBO on 020 7379 0304 or LizNicholson at Norwich Union on 08703 666863.

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