Tips for Driving in Europe
to rent cars to the rules of the road, learn these tips for driving in Europe
before your next trip.
driving along a cliff-hugging road in Italy, stealing glimpses at the Mediterranean
below, when you realize that the tank’s nearly empty. Wait: which is it, gas or
diesel? If only you’d remembered to ask when you picked up the rental. Making
the wrong choice at the pump will cost you, and insurance won’t cover it.
a lot to know before you get behind the wheel in Europe, where car fleets, road
signs, hidden traffic cameras—even the preference for
stick shift—can be intimidating to American drivers. But don’t give up and
book that bus tour just yet; we’ve done the research to make it easy for you to
embrace the freedom of the open European road.
Insurance, for starters, is a major area of confusion for
travelers. Learn the ins and outs of the collision damage waiver (CDW) and make
sure you’re not paying for coverage that your credit card account already includes—just
beware of one European country that’s the exception to this rule.
You should also get familiar with the short-term-lease option,
which can make sense if you’re traveling for longer periods, and find out which
companies can arrange it. Name-brand rental agencies such as Hertz and Avis
aren’t your only option. Europcar is the Continent’s biggest agency, and its
counters can be found from the northernmost reaches of Norway down to the
islands of the Mediterranean.
Once you’re motoring, keep in mind the rules for where police are
permitted to collect fines on the spot (no, it’s not a bribe) and where drivers
cannot consume a single alcoholic beverage. Hopefully it’s just the
breathtaking scenery that forces you to pull over, but just in case, be aware
of what to do if you get into a Continental collision.
We’ve covered these scenarios and more, so read on for everything
you need to know to negotiate Europe’s roads—and then get moving! —Jennifer