Winter Sun Holiday – beware road accidents abroad

Are you prepared for driving on foreign roads? Important information for avoiding road accidents abroad.

With the increased popularity of skiing and other winter sports thousands of UK residents head off at the beginning of the year for a holiday in the Alps or one of Europe’s other illustrious winter destinations. If you are planning on travelling abroad this month, then it may pay to understand the safety and legal issues, especially if you are driving to your holiday resort.

Follow our safety advice to help stay out of trouble and avoid road accidents abroad in 2014.

1. Equip your vehicle

A key issue to remember is that road conditions abroad, particularly during the winter months, are likely to be more severe than those we experience in the UK. Winter weather such as ice, snow, winds and even the blinding winter sun may prove to be problematic for driving, and cause many road accidents abroad.

Each European country has its own standards and guidelines which must be adhered to when driving within their borders. In many countries, at this time of the year, specialist equipment such as winter tyres is a legal requirement for driving. Most countries also require emergency equipment like first aid kits and warning triangles to be carried when travelling abroad.

It is important to check the rules of the country you will be visiting before you depart on holiday. It is the responsibility of the driver to ensure their vehicle is properly equipped and law enforcement organisations will take this matter very seriously imposing hefty fines on those who do not follow the rules. The AA offer a quick reference compulsory equipment guide which you may find helpful.


2. Take precautions

Often it’s all too easy to be distracted by holiday cheer, however if you are the designated driver for part, or for all of your trip, then you need to ensure that you have taken all necessary precautions.

These are just a couple of simple considerations to make before you leave:

  • Understand the alcohol limits in each country you are visiting – they may change from destination to destination.
  • Know the speed limits.
  • Understand the meaning of foreign road signs.
  • Check which side of the road you are to drive on.
  • Holiday luggage could make your vehicle heavier than usual so ensure you know your stopping distances and allow more time for braking.
  • Check the compulsory requirements. Do you require a GB sticker? Should you be carrying a warning triangle or reflective jacket in case of a breakdown?.
  • Contact your mobile phone provider to confirm if you phone will work abroad. Check the rates and tariff charges.
  • Ensure that you have adequate car insurance and breakdown cover for your journey. Make sure that you keep copies of these important documents in the car during your journey.
  • Check the foreign travel advice from the government.


3. Plan the route

Be prepared for your journey by planning your route in advance. While driving abroad, as in the UK, you should be cautious and expect the unexpected at all times.

Driving styles may be different to that of the UK and this may take some time for you to adjust to. Also, be aware of rest areas along the way. It is recommended that you take regular breaks – at least 15 minutes every two hours. It is a good idea to plot your route on a map and consider when you may need to rest, highlighting appropriate rest stops along the route.

4. If you are involved in an accident

After ensuring any injuries are seen to by medical professionals, the following steps are items you should remember if you intend on making a personal injury compensation claim following your road traffic accident.

1. Emergency contacts

Keep a list of anyone you may need to contact in an emergency, this includes emergency services, family members, insurance companies, roadside recovery and legal advice lines. By having these numbers to hand it will save valuable time after an accident has occurred.

2. Contact your insurer immediately

Many people make the mistake of waiting until they return home before calling the insurance company to register the accident.

3. Don’t delay speaking with a legal expert

If you wait until you are back in the UK before starting any legal proceedings you run the risk of forgetting important information which in the long run could make a big difference to the amount of compensation you are entitled to. Contacting a legal expert immediately after the accident will help you to more accurately recall the accidents details. Once this simple phone call is made, you can then enjoy the remainder of your holiday without the worry of needing to sort things out when you get home.

4. Keep a record of the event

Write down all the details you can recall about the accident. If possible take down the names and addresses of any witnesses. Keep all records in one safe location so that it can be easily accessed as and when needed.

5. Take photographs

Photographic evidence of the location of the accident or any injuries could help to ensure you get the best possible compensation. Most people have a camera on hand during their vacation so remember to get it out after an accident and take appropriate photos.


At Keylaw, we have legal experts who have many years of experience in dealing with accident claims abroad. Our solicitors can advise on the circumstances involved in making an injury claim that has occurred in a foreign country and whether or not this differs from UK laws.

Different countries may also have a different limitation period to that in the UK; that is the timeframe allowed for you to make your claim could be shorter than you would expect. Delaying action could result in your missing the limitation period and not being able to claim the compensation you deserve. Call our injury compensation experts on 0845 6188448 for free legal advice or to start your claim.

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