- 1 in 3 UK and Irish drivers (35%) are unaware that you drive on the right hand side of the road in France
- Less than 1 in 5 (17%) are aware they need a breathalyser in their car while driving in France and only 3 in 10 (30%) know they require headlamp beam converters to comply with French law
- A fifth (20%) of drivers don’t know 70 miles per hour is faster than 70 kilometres per hour 
- Three quarters (78%) are unaware that the drink driving limit is higher in the UK and Ireland than it is in France
- uSwitch.com is calling for motorists to be on the ball before driving to the 2016 UEFA European Championship by reading up on French motoring laws and checking if they have the appropriate kit
A staggering third (35%) of UK and Irish drivers mistakenly believe motorists drive on the left hand side of the road in France, according to new research from uSwitch.com, the price comparison site and switching service.
As thousands of football fans from England, Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland get ready to set off to France this summer for the 2016 UEFA European Championship, uSwitch is urging fans road-tripping to the finals to brush up on the laws of the road to avoid heavy fines and penalties.
Not having the correct kit in the car is a regular own goal. French law requires motorists to have a range of accessories such as headlamp beam converters, a warning triangle, spare bulbs, high-visibility jacket and an approved breathalyser – and failure to carry these items can result in hefty on-the-spot penalties. However, fewer than one in five (17%) realise they’d need a breathalyser and only three in ten (30%) know that they’d require headlamp beam converters.
Motorists are in danger of getting caught in the fast lane when converting speed from miles per hour (mph) to kilometres per hour (km/h), with a fifth (20%) of people surveyed not knowing that 70mph is faster than 70km/h.
Travelling fans will need to keep a clear head when it comes to the drink driving laws in France. While the limit in the UK and Ireland is 0.8 milligrams per millilitre (mg per ml) – about one pint – in France it is 0.5 mg per ml, the equivalent of a small beer. However, less than a quarter (22%) of motorists know that the drink driving limit is stricter in the rest of the EU than it is in the UK.
Of the people surveyed, over half (54%) say that driving overseas is ‘difficult’ or ‘stressful’ – but despite this, only a third (36%) make sure they check the different driving regulations before they travel. Meanwhile, a third (34%) of drivers have no idea whether their car insurance covers them when driving abroad.
With four of the home nations battling it out at the Euros, competition is expected to be fierce. The Welsh came out as the nation with the most bullish driving habits, with nearly a third (29%) claiming driving abroad is easy, compared to just 17% of Northern Irish drivers. The Northern Irish on the other hand are the least likely to be befuddled by foreign road laws, with only 13% saying that they are commonly confused by foreign signs, compared to over one in five (21%) English drivers.
Following today’s findings, uSwitch.com is calling on drivers to check with their insurer before they travel to make sure they are fully covered and to read up on the laws of the road before driving to France.
Rod Jones, insurance expert at uSwitch.com, said: “With footie fans looking forward to making the short trip across the Channel this summer, it’s concerning that so many could be caught offside because of foreign road laws. It’s vital that anyone planning on driving to France understands the different rules before setting off to make sure cheers don’t turn to tears when faced with a heavy fine or worse.
“It pays to check that your car insurance policy includes European cover. Many policies default to third-party only protection on the continent unless you’ve stipulated otherwise, so talk to your insurer if necessary. Breakdown cover is also worth checking – the last thing you want is for your trip to stall on the way to the game.”
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