53% of Brits who drove abroad made costly and dangerous driving mistakes in the last year alone

Side view of woman driving camper van at beach on a sunny day

New research from Prima, the car insurance provider, reveals that more than half of those who have driven abroad in Europe over the last 12 months (53%) admit to having made mistakes.

One in six (17%) said that they had exceeded the speed limit, and a further 14% admitted that they’d got behind the wheel in a foreign country before getting comfortable with local road signs, rules and customs.

This could be why 14% of those that have chosen to drive abroad in the last 12 months – have – or have almost – been involved in a traffic collision overseas.

Brits drive without understanding local rules

With the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and rising airfares, more Brits are choosing to drive rather than fly abroad. But many are oblivious to the differences between UK driving laws and those in other European countries.

For instance, in countries like Italy and Spain, drivers are required to carry certain equipment in their car at all times that they aren’t in the UK. This includes a set of spare bulbs and the tools to fit them, warning triangles and headlamp beam deflectors.

15% admitted to driving in Europe without this equipment. This is despite the fact that getting caught without it can result in hefty on-the-spot fines.

Many feel nervous on foreign roads

The research also revealed that, while more than two fifths of those who have driven abroad (42%) are excited about exploring somewhere new by car this year, many feel anxious about it.

In fact, 22% worry about driving on the other side of the road. One in six (17%) worry about not understanding the different road signs and rules. One in eight (13%) worry they don’t have the correct insurance to drive abroad. And 13% worry that the stress of driving means they won’t enjoy their holiday at all.

More than two fifths rely on their UK car insurance abroad

Prima also explored what kind of insurance Brits rely on to drive overseas.

They found that 22% had purchased a travel insurance policy, which included cover to drive abroad.

Almost twice as many (41%) relied on their UK comprehensive car insurance to drive abroad. Others opted for an insurance policy for the specific country (13%), an extension to their existing car insurance policy (12%) and some used existing breakdown cover (7%).

Shockingly, 1 in 20 (5%) of UK adults haven’t or won’t use any type of insurance when they have or plan to drive abroad.

“It’s worrying to see that so many UK motorists make mistakes when driving abroad,” says Nick Ielpo, UK Country Manager at Prima. “For the safety of yourself and other road users, you should always read up on local traffic laws before taking to the road overseas.

“Getting familiar with local road laws before travelling can help reduce any anxiety you have about driving abroad too. And to further put your mind at ease, you should speak to your UK car insurance provider before your trip. Check exactly what your current UK policy covers you for abroad. That way, there’ll be no nasty shocks if you do have an accident.

“Here at Prima, for instance, our drivers automatically have comprehensive cover to drive abroad anywhere in the EU, as well as a few non-EU countries, for up to 90 days.”

This year, it is estimated that a quarter of Brits have driven or are planning to drive in Europe, with France being the most popular holiday destination. Two fifths (46%) of those are aged 18-34, indicating this as a popular trend among younger people. In contrast, older holidaymakers – those aged over 55 – are hanging up the keys when it comes to driving abroad. This age group is twice as likely to not have driven in Europe recently and not plan to either.

DestinationPercentage of the populationEstimated number of people
France375. 2 million
Spain243. 4 million
Italy182. 6 million
Germany162. 3 million
Netherlands121.7 million
Ireland111.6 million
Belgium111.6 million
Greece101.5 million
Switzerland71 million

1 thought on “53% of Brits who drove abroad made costly and dangerous driving mistakes in the last year alone”

  1. Policing Through

    Prior to leaving the EU, my insurance covered me in full for up to 90 days away. I do not know what the current deal is, but if I have to buy a Green Card, so be it. That is how it worked years ago. Some insurers include Green Card cover within the price of the policy.

    A bigger issue is that of licensing. Now we are out of the EU, UK drivers should have an international licence, but as usual, this is not as simple as it first seems. There are three international treaties, so it is important to ensure that the right licence is obtained for the appropriate country following the appropriate treaty conditions.

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