Last updated: 10:21 PM ET, Sat September 10 2016

What to Know Before Driving in Europe

Car Rental & Rail | Auto Europe | Bobbi Dempsey | September 10, 2016

What to Know Before Driving in Europe

PHOTO: Don’t be intimidated by driving in Europe but know the rules of the road. (Courtesy AutoEurope)


There are many exciting things about travelling to Europe. One aspect that can either be exciting or intimidating (depending on how you feel about risk and trying new things) is the prospect of driving in a traffic environment that is very different than what people may be familiar with if they are used to driving in the United States.

That’s where Auto Europe is a huge asset.

First, you need to become familiar with the rules of the road. This is important, even if you have driven in a different part of Europe before, because the laws and rules can vary widely from one region to another. You want to particularly research the rules regarding speed limits, traffic laws, and the limits on alcohol consumption (if you plan to imbibe).

The good news is, most of Europe follows the same right-hand lane driving approach used in the States, so you probably won’t need to get comfortable driving on the opposite side of the road. You will however, need to get accustomed to being part of a fast-paced traffic world, at least in certain parts of Europe. Drivers in many regions in that part of the world are notorious for being almost fearless when it comes to both speed and making quick maneuvers in and around traffic. Perhaps the most famous example of this is the Autobahn in Germany, which is well-known for its lack of speed limits. In just about any part of Europe, driving defensively and staying out of the way of faster drivers is generally your best bet.

READ MORE: The Best Road Trips Through Spain

Signs and road markings are another critical element of safe driving in Europe. Some of the road markings are similar to ones that U.S. drivers may recognize, but others—while similar in appearance—mean something different than they do in the States. Take time to review the traffic signals and road markings in the place where you are headed in advance to save yourself some headaches and close calls.

Another tip: be prepared for roundabouts. Depending on what part of the U.S. you usually travel, roundabouts may already be familiar to you. But in some parts of Europe they are impossible to avoid, so you must learn to love (or at least tolerate) them if you want to get around without a high level of anxiety.

Check out the toll system for the area where you plan to travel. In some places, it works like regions of the U.S., where you can pay tolls at designated stop points along the way. Other areas require you to have a sticker on your car, which you can purchase at the borders and other travel locations.

Also, pay attention to parking conditions. Violating parking rules can result in getting your car towed or incurring hefty fines. Just as in the United States, parking signs and designations aren’t always easy to understand, so be sure to ask a local or check with the police if you are unclear about when and where you can park.

Lastly, be sure to take time to enjoy the view! One of the best things about touring Europe by car is the chance to experience some unique and breathtaking scenery.

Get the perfect set of wheels for your European travels from Auto Europe.

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