Car Hire Driving Tips

Millions of people hire cars each year for both business and pleasure. When visiting the United Kingdom drivers from abroad have to deal with the difficulties of driving both a right hand drive car plus being on the other side of the road. You should be especially careful when, once you have your hire car and you leave the garage - you need to be in the left hand lane when you pull into traffic.

If you are a UK citizen then remember that most other road users drive on the right-hand side of the road - so beware. Whatever country you are visiting take note of these suggestions:

Mobile phones

Before leaving home be sure to have your mobile enabled for overseas use - a call is expensive compared to domestic use but it is your best friend in emergencies.

Seat belts

Do not let holiday madness make you lax - seat belts must be worn by all and heavy spot fines can be incurred for failing to do so.

Joining traffic

Especially take care when pulling out from say a service stations or the shops were your concentration may be down compared to pulling out from a roadside.

Take care

When overtaking give more space than usual between you and the car in front so you can see clearly the road ahead.

Keep to the speed limit

Watch for speed signs and remember they are in Kilometres Per Hour not Miles Per Hour. Most of the world uses the metric system, so even though your hired car speedometer will be locally adjusted try to become familiar with this system. 1 kilometre = 0.62 miles so 100 kilometres per hour = 62 miles per hour.

Keep coins to hand

Toll roads are common in France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Austria. You need cash to pay.

Traffic lights

In many countries a continuously flashing amber light means that you may proceed if the road is clear, but you must give way if called to do so. The change from green to red is quicker than in the UK because very often there is no amber.

Plan your trip

Be certain of your destination. A good map is a worthwhile investment as is writing down your route. Know your road numbers. Check the dates of local holidays or festivals, services may be limited on those dates along with restricted access to many roads.

Make yourself understood

Have a pen, paper and phrase book with you at all times if you do not speak the language of your host country. Try to learn simple phrases like "I need petrol", "I have broken down", "where is a hospital / bank", "I am lost!".


Make sure that you have your passport, driving licence and if required your visas with you always. Be sure that all are valid for the duration of your vacation. Take your car rental documents with you in the car at all times.


You should contact the local office of your rental car company immediately.

Horn use

Beware local restrictions apply in urban areas with heavy spot fines for abuse.


You must exchange the usual details with the other party and also file a police report. You should contact the local office of your rental car company immediately.

Enjoy your holiday, make the best use of your hired car. Unlike at home you may not know where the next filling station is so stay topped up with fuel - running out of fuel its the biggest cause of personal grief to our experience. Don't do it!