Rules Of The Road, European Caravan Transport Laws
Whilst most caravan enthusiasts tend to limit their travel to the UK, there are many caravan owners who are little more intrepid. They regularly use their vehicles to travel the length and breadth of Europe, taking in the sights and soaking up the sun. Exploring Europe from a caravan can be an intensely rewarding experience. It’s much cheaper than package holidays. There are fewer restrictions and requirements. You can go wherever want, whenever you like, because your house is coming with you.
When planning a European caravan trip however, it is important to be aware of the many different safety regulations that exist throughout the continent. Comfort and familiarity with the wide range of European road regulations does eventually accumulate along with experience, but it can be hard for inexperienced or first-time holiday-makers to know what’s what.
Many road regulations, especially when it comes to caravans, are the same in almost all European countries. Most will be the same rules abroad as they are in the UK. Most are common sense and very easy to adhere to. For example, it is illegal to drive your caravan whilst using a mobile phone. You must have at least one first aid kit on board at all times whilst travelling. A fire extinguisher is required in some countries. It is strongly recommended that all caravans carry both of these items at all times.
Unsurprisingly, ‘stop’ means stop in every language and every country. There is no excuse for driving through a red light. You could be in trouble with authorities if you are caught disregarding this rule. Satnavs and GPS systems that routinely detect the locations of fixed speed cameras are legal in all countries, but in France, Germany and Switzerland, you must deactivate this function before driving.
One of the most important things to consider when traveling Europe in a caravan, is the drink drive limit for each country. Be warned – all countries have their own rules and you should always take the time to find out what they are before you get into a caravan after drinking alcohol. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia all have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to drink driving. No amount of alcohol in the blood whilst driving will be tolerated. Please note that new rules in France require every driver to carry his or her own breathalyser. There are no exceptions to this rule. Breathalysers cost around £1.50 and can be purchased from all supermarkets and pharmacies. For more information on this, visit alcodigital.com.
Due to the often rigorous nature of caravan towing, it is a legal requirement in most countries that you carry enough high visibility vests for all passengers. That way, if you have to get out of the caravan at night or on a busy highway, you will be safe and seen by other drivers. You will also have to carry and use a warning triangle (two in Spain) whenever you are towing beside or on a road. Please note that if you are travelling in Spain, regulations stipulate that any motor-home or caravan over 12m in length must be clearly fitted with marker boards.
As with drink driving limits, it is vital that you adhere to a country’s speed limit. All countries have their own rules regarding speed and they must all be rigidly followed if you wish to avoid trouble with the authorities. In many countries the speed limit for towns and villages is not explicitly signposted, but is instead displayed with the use of a rectangular sign, edged in red. This sign will tell you the name of the town you are driving through and its speed limit. It signifies a 30mph zone. Once you have exited the town or village, the speed limit will return to whatever it happened to be before you entered it.
All bikes must be securely stored within a roof rack or a rack located at the back of your caravan. This is the rule for almost all countries in Europe. You cannot carry a bike at the back of your car in Portugal, but it is legal everywhere else.
Driving your caravan in Europe doesn’t have to be a drag. As long as you stick to the rules and regulations of the country you are driving through, you will have a completely stress-free holiday. Feel free to ask the authorities for help or advice if necessary – it’s what they’re there for after all.
Author Bio: Sarah is a caravan expert and mobile-home expert. She gives professional advice to those looking for a caravan. For the a caravan insurance quote she recommends Naco Services. She thinks that caravanning holidays are an amazing balance of comfort and value for money.