Having a car provides a universal sense of freedom; the ability to travel anywhere you like, whenever you like. Trouble is, it can be stressful when driving somewhere you aren’t used to, and that feeling is even more intense when you’re in a completely different country!
Driving On The Other Side Of The Road
If you’ve been living in a country like the UK for a significant portion of your life, you’ll be used to driving on the left-hand side of the road. However, the large majority of Europe drive on the right-hand side of the road which can take some getting used to. When you’re driving along roads which are brand new to you, it’s easy to slip up and end up on the wrong side of a confusing junction.
Junctions in certain countries like Greece aren’t always well-marked so be sure to take things slow and keep an eye on your surroundings. If you’d find it more confusing to be driving on the left – don’t worry – it’s highly unlikely you’ll encounter this, as only four countries in Europe still drive on the left – Cyprus, Ireland, Malta and the UK.
Getting Used To Using Mph/Kph
Most digital speedometers can be easily changed to display the desired unit of speed however in the event your car doesn’t have a digital speedometer, check the inside band of your manual speedometer – it will display both units of measurement on opposing sides of the dial.
It’s important to keep an eye on nearby road signs to avoid speeding fines – another thing which European countries are strict on. Distractions can also be a major issue – according to a recent survey from UK based car leasing firm All Car Leasing, listening to loud music can reduce your focus and increase the chances of getting a speeding fine.
Low Emission Zones (LEZ)
This is a relatively more modern problem. If you’re visiting the UK, there are certain parts of the country which charge for driving through in a car which emits a certain amount of carbon emissions, this charge can vary depending on the type of zone you’re in. London recently announced an ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ) which is even stricter.
This isn’t something to be confused with tourist traps, the UK government is cracking down on the pollution caused by heavy congestion in inner-city locations like London but it’s easy to wander in to one of these zones accidentally.
Congestion charge zones cost £11.50 per day if you pay on the day of travel – this gets upped to £14 if you were to pay the following day. The cost of driving through a ULEZ is £12.50 per day.
Other Drivers May Intimidate You
This isn’t something unique to a particular country, but since you’re likely going to be driving slightly slower than the locals which are used to their roads, you may end up with the occasional tailgater. Don’t invite any road rage by brake checking them – the last thing you want is to end up in an accident in an unfamiliar country, nor do you want the police showing up to any confrontations resulting from further aggravating other drivers.
The most you can do is just be accommodating to others around you – it’s stressful driving in places you don’t know, just don’t hog the middle lane of a motorway or drive the wrong way around a roundabout and you’ll be fine.