5 Tips for Driving in Europe This Summer

By Jonathan Spira on 9 July 2018
  • Share

Planning a trip to Europe this summer? If so, consider touring the continent by car. Whether it’s the Romantische Straße in Germany, the Großglockner Hochalpenstraße in Austria, the Adriatic Highway from Split to Dubrovnik, or an equally beautiful but less well known path such as the Donau Straße in Lower Austria outside Vienna, having a car and stopping along the way is the best way to get to know a country.

Driving choices are unlimited and include a traditional rental, European Delivery, or even a short-term lease from automakers such as Peugeot and Citroën.

Here’s what you should consider when planning a road trip abroad.

1.) International Driving Permit.
An International Driving Permit (available from the AAA before you go) is a certified translation of a U.S. state’s driver’s license in multiple languages. The IDP is a United Nations-sanctioned document that has been translated into nine languages and is recognized in over 100 countries. Numerous countries including Austria and Hungary require certified translations and having the IDP meets this requirement.

2.) Read up on the rules of the road.
All of Europe uses a variation on the same simple set of road symbols. Unlike what is customary in the United States, right turns on red are not permitted (unless there is a turning arrow, something common in Germany). If you are driving in Germany, Austria, or Switzerland in particular, read up on Autobahn driving rules, especially those applicable to passing.

3.) When to yield.
Priority to the right (in French, la priorité à droite, in German, rechts vor links) refers to the right-of-way system in most countries where the driver is required to yield to vehicles approaching from the right at an intersection. Since this is the default, there are generally no signs indicating priority to the right. On priority roads, diamond-shaped signs indicate that traffic on the priority road have priority and those coming from the right will have a stop sign or equivalent.

4.) Don’t drink and drive.
The legal blood-alcohol limit is lower across the Continent and in Ireland than in the United States. Indeed, even within the European Union, the acceptable level of blood alcohol content varies by country. In Germany, Austria, and Switzerland the limit is 0.05 grams per one liter of blood. It’s also 0.05 in Italy and Denmark but it’s a substantially lower 0.02 in Norway and Sweden. Hungary, on the other hand, has a zero-tolerance policy towards any level of blood alcohol content. In Japan it’s 0.03 while in Israel it’s 0.024.

5.) Don’t text and drive either.
It’s almost universally illegal to talk on a mobile phone without using a hands-free option and texting or doing anything with the phone in one’s hand is equally frowned upon.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)