European Rules of the Road

European Rules of the Road

Richard Phibbs T+L Editor, Nancy Novogrod
Richard Phibbs T+L Editor, Nancy Novogrod

When the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic was ratified in 1968, it standardized most driving regulations. Within Europe, however, some countries still have their own peculiarities; some even require an International Driving Permit (IDP)*. We've tracked down the driving essentials in seven key countries.

France

www.autoroutes.fr

Unusual Traffic Rules Police have the authority to collect fines of up to $455 on the spot. Drivers going more than 24 mph over the speed limit can have their licenses confiscated.
Speed Limit 50 kmh (30 mph) in towns; 130 kmh (81 mph) on expressways
IDP Required? No

Germany

www.cometogermany.com (Click on Getting Around)

Unusual Traffic Rules Drivers must carry a warning triangle and a first-aid kit (provided in rental cars). Seat belts are mandatory in both the front and back seats.
Speed Limit 50 kmh (30 mph) in towns; 130 kmh (81 mph) is "suggested" on the autobahn
IDP Required? No

Italy

www.enit.it (Click on How to Get Around)

Unusual Traffic Rules Police collect traffic fines on the spot. All cars must carry a reflective safety vest (provided in rental cars) for drivers to wear in case of a breakdown.
Speed Limit 50 kmh (30 mph) in towns; 130 kmh (81 mph) on expressways
IDP Required? Yes

Netherlands

www.goholland.com (Click on Travel Information)

Unusual Traffic Rules Bicycles have their own lanes—and the right-of-way.
Speed Limit 50 kmh (30 mph) in towns; 120 kmh (74 mph) on expressways
IDP Required? No

Slovenia

www.amzs.si

Unusual Traffic Rules Headlights must be on night and day. Police write tickets payable at banks and post offices. Fines must be paid in Slovenian currency.
Speed Limit 50 kmh (30 mph) in towns; 130 kmh (78 mph) on expressways
IDP Required? Yes

Sweden

www.vv.se

Unusual Traffic Rules Headlights must be on night and day. Using the horn in towns is illegal at night. It is legal to use a mobile phone while driving.
Speed Limit 50 kmh (30 mph) in towns; 110 kmh (68 mph) on expressways
IDP Required? No

UK

www.theaa.com

Unusual Traffic Rules London imposes a $14 congestion charge Monday to Friday, from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Speed Limit Usually 30 mph in towns; 70 mph on expressways
IDP Required? No

* You can apply for an IDP online at www.aaa.com


Navigating the roads of Europe just got easier: rental-car companies have added new high-tech extras. ?; Avis now has GPS units available and rents everything from BlackBerrys to high-speed wireless cards for your laptop (800/331-1084; www.avis.com). ?; Hertz's NeverLost GPS units (800/654-3001; www.hertz.com) give turn-by-turn directions for 27 European countries. Get an international cell phone—return shipping is $25; calls cost from 90 cents to $3.85 per minute—with any car hire. ?; In Germany, Enterprise offers built-in satellite navigation systems in many of its high-end rental cars; portable TomTom GPS units for its smaller vehicles are available upon request. ?; Other luxury options include: Exoticar Express (www.exoticarexpress.com; 888/396-8422; from $482 a day) rents Maseratis, Ferraris, and Porsches in 23 European cities. ?; Or hire a driver from Elite Rent-a-Car (www.eliterent.com; 41-22/909-8787; from $360 a day), which has 13 outlets, including Gstaad and St.-Tropez, among others.
—Sarah Kantrowitz and Robert Maniaci

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