Dangers of Driving in Europe & How To Stay Safe

The dangers of driving in Europe

Photo Credit -JasminAli – Sunsplash

Do you want to explore Europe by road? This is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in all the different countries, their cultures and people while having the absolute freedom of a car. However, you should be wary because there are a lot of dangers related to driving around the continent. But also because some countries have very unconventional driving laws which might get you in trouble.

Austria and Slovenia

In Austria, the traffic lights system is different from what most people will be used to. When the green light starts flashing, it means that you must prepare to stop the car. While there is a slight difference in traffic lights and what they mean to drivers in Austria, Slovenia might be even more complicated due to a complex system of stickers or vignettes that drivers use when traveling on some motorways and express roads. These vignettes are compulsory, and they can be found either at petrol stations in Slovenia or in tobacconists and other shops in neighboring countries.

While driving in Vienna, it is not a good idea to use your horn because it is generally banned and only legal if it’s used for emergencies. 

Portugal

You might find it more pleasant to drive in Portugal thanks to the overall road etiquette. Drivers with a licence dated less than a year cannot exceed 90 km/h; green lines marked as “Via Verde” are reserved, strictly, for drivers using the automatic payment system with the same name, and if another driver flashes their lights they are asking you to give way.

Photo Credit – joão Barbosa
@jpgbarbosa – Unsplash

Central and Western Europe

On Sundays in central and western Europe, truckers follow the 90/10 rule where 90 percent are off the road, and only 10 per cent are on the road. That is why Sundays are the best day to travel by car in this area of the continent. But even these roads might be a bit different compared to a highway in Germany, better known as the autobahn, where there is no speed limit. So be aware that you might be seeing all kinds of vehicles coming at you and doing all sorts of maneuvers at fast and furious speeds.

Berlin is strict with the levels of alcohol in the blood while driving, especially if you are a foreigner. In this city, you are only allowed the equivalent of one glass of wine. The city of Prague is just four hours away from Berlin, and there you must have no alcohol in your blood at all. Be aware that there is numerous breath analyzing patrols along the route that connect these cities. 

If you think that is unconventional, you should drive in Italy, one of the most welcoming countries in Europe. However, here’s a good tip for you: if you are going to take a road trip here, the Italian government has installed the “Tutor System” for speed monitoring, which will issue you a ticket if you exceed the speed limit, so make sure you always stay under it!

Photo Credit -@sarah_elizabeth – Unsplash

If you really love music, stay away from the roads in France and Spain because the use of headphones is not allowed here, regardless of whether they are used for phone calls or music. However, this cannot compare to the laws in Cyprus, where drivers are prohibited from eating or drinking anything while driving.

In Belarus, Bulgaria, Romania, and Russia it is against the law to drive a dirty car, so make sure that you give your wheels a good wash. But in Greece, this law only applies on holidays, where drivers are not allowed to smoke while driving, and this rule applies to tourists too.

France, North Macedonia and Germany

In France, you must be a responsible driver and check your own alcohol level before you drive. Here, drivers are required by law to carry a breathalyzer. But they take it further in North Macedonia; here, the laws state that not only the driver but also the passengers must be below the driving limit of alcohol in the blood. If that’s a bit out of the ordinary you should consider Germany’s laws; which state that drivers should avoid making any gestures (since rudeness or any sort of unkind behavior can be heavily punished by the authorities).

If you are going to book a trip around Europe, it is wise to be well informed of the different customs, road etiquette and laws that you’ll encounter along the way. Follow the rules and your adventure is going to be memorable – in a good way!

Spain

Last spring I rented a car and took an awesome road trip around Andalucia. You can read my detailed guide to renting a car in Spain as well as my backpacking Andalucia guide to get more info.

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