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Fearful in Europe

Nervy British drivers take dangerous risks abroad

MANY of the estimated eight million British drivers taking to foreign roads this year are riddled with nerves, make dangerous mistakes and lack essential knowledge when it comes to driving abroad.

According to new research, which forms part of Norwich Union’s ‘Driving Abroad Uncovered’ report, almost half (48%) of British motorists admit to being nervous about driving overseas.

And the study reveals that their nerves are often well-founded - over a third (35%) say they have accidentally driven on the wrong side of the road while abroad, 42% say they usually look the wrong way when approaching junctions and 24% say they have unwittingly broken the speed limit in a foreign country.

These common concerns are supported by Norwich Union claims analysis, which highlights confusion at roundabouts and giving way to the right as some of the most common causes of accidents in Europe.

The research also identifies British drivers’ main concerns when driving in a different country, which include being involved in an accident (49%), being flummoxed by foreign rules and regulations, their car breaking down (34%) and misinterpreting unfamiliar road signs (13%).

Despite their concerns, many motorists are worryingly unprepared for driving in unfamiliar conditions and countries. One in five (20%) say they don’t do any research before they leave and assume they will just ‘pick things up’ when they get there, and 5% even admit that they don’t bother to do any research because they assume the road rules and regulations will be the same as in the UK.

And while more than a third of motorists (34%) say they wouldn’t know how to get assistance if they broke down in a foreign country, nearly a million people still don’t check their motor insurance before heading off. Norwich Union warns that failure to do so could cost them dear, with claims data from the UK’s largest insurer showing that car accidents abroad vary in costs from an average of £1,445 in France to £5,180 in Sweden and Denmark.

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