British motorists warned of huge fines when driving in Europe

Driving abroad: RAC's tips for driving in Europe

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With the holidays approaching, many UK motorists may be planning to venture to Europe over the coming months. But, experts are urging drivers to make sure they are aware of road rules when driving on the continent or they could face fines.

Winter tyres

More than 20 European countries require drivers to have winter tyres, including popular tourist destinations like Germany, Turkey and Iceland.

Central Europe dominates the list of countries forbidding studded tyres, the lack of snow compared to countries such as Sweden or Finland means that less grip is needed on the roads in these locations.

In Belgium, exceptions can be made if extreme weather conditions begin to trouble drivers. If so, they are only allowed on vehicles up to 3,500kg.

Drivers in Switzerland can make use of studded tyres, however, they are not permitted on motorways.

Out of all the European countries, the Netherlands is the only place where snow chains are forbidden. 

In most European countries, the legal minimum tread depth for tyres is 3mm. Mandatory snow chains may be required in areas of increased snow such as driving in steep mountain areas. 

Lastly, in Liechtenstein, drivers must carry snow chains at all times and be prepared to use them when instructed via road signs, according to

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Eating and drinking at the wheel

Whilst you may be used to sneaking a quick snack or having a small slurp whilst you’re driving away, you could face some serious consequences for doing so in Cyprus.

The country has actually completely banned drivers from eating or drinking whilst driving. 

This even includes drinking water and you may face a serious fine, or worse, should you not follow the country’s regulations. 

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Car cleaning

Simon Mawdlsey, Co-Founder of Grand Prix Grand Tours, said: “In certain countries, you may even get into trouble for the condition that your car is in.

“And we’re not just talking about the broken lights or malfunctioning windscreen wipers.”

He added that in Belarus and Bulgaria, motorists could get fined for having a dirty car, which could be as much as €50 or £43.51.

Fire extinguishers

Simon continued, saying: “Some countries are very specific in what they want you to have to hand whilst you’re driving in their territories and, in comparison, having to prove that you have a spare pair of glasses may not seem nearly as strict.”

For example, in countries including Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, it is a requirement for motorists to have a fire extinguisher in their car at all times. 

Another unexpected item drivers may be asked to prove, should they be pulled over whilst in Estonia, is that they have blocks of wood or plastic that can be put under their car wheels to prevent it from rolling backwards. 

Mr Mawdlsey added: “As a general tip, breakdown kits are also required in some European countries so ensuring that you have one of these to hand at all times is a necessity.”

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