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Driving in Europe - European driving regulations

In Europe, as in Canada, certain regulations apply when you take the road. Do your research before you leave.

Driver's license

Most European countries require an international driver's license (IDL) which serves as legal ID with all pertinent information translated in 11 foreign languages. You must obtain this document prior to departure.

Number of passengers in vehicle

A vehicle's registration indicates the maximum number of authorized passengers. For insurance and civil liability reasons, you must comply. Children always count as passengers, no matter their age.

Driving regulations

Though regulations differ from one country to the next, you must always respect them. Prior to departure, do some research to understand foreign road signs, driving habits and other particularities of European driving regulations.

Here are a few examples:

  • Left-side driving in the UK, Ireland, Cyprus and Malta;
  • Prohibited to put a bicycle behind a vehicle in Portugal;
  • Prohibited to park less than 10 metres (32.8') from a pedestrian crossing in Switzerland (5 metres in the majority of other countries);
  • Prohibited to park less than 10 metres (65.6') from a traffic light in Portugal and Belgium;
  • Required to have a fire extinguisher in the car in Belgium;
  • Prohibited for intoxicated persons to sit on the front-passenger seat in Bosnia;
  • Speed limit changes from 130 km/h to 110 km/h when raining in France (certain highways).

Violations leading to fines can become very costly.

Children

For children under 10 years of age, it is required to use a safety seat adapted to their size and weight (seat approved up to age 7 and booster for ages 7-10).

Winter tires legislation in France

From November 1, 2021, winter tires become mandatory during the winter in certain mountainous areas in France. Indeed, to improve the safety of users on the road and limit traffic jams in mountain areas, the government published a decree no 2020-1264 of October 16, 2020 in the Official Journal of October 18, 2020.

Concretely, this means that if you are driving in a city affected by the decree between November 1 and March 31, you must equip your car (M1 category vehicle with a maximum of 8 seats):

  • either metal snow chains on at least two driving wheels: they are recommended for frequent use because they are more effective, especially in heavy snow conditions, than textile chains;
  • or textile chains, commonly called “snow socks” on two drive wheels: they are ideal for occasional use because they are very easy to install (but less effective than metal chains);
  • or regulatory winter tires on your 4 wheels (more precisely on at least two wheels on each axle).

To learn more and to know the departments concerned click here

Essential elements of European driving regulations

Source : Prévention routière

The following information is for your personal information only. Renault Canada is in no way responsible contractually or otherwise and is not designed to replace legal texts which must always be consulted.

 Speed limits in km/h
(tourist vehicles)
city/roadway/highway
Blood-alcohol limits
(g/l)
Cell phone useCompulsory seat belt front/rearRequired equipment in vehicleHeadlights required in daytime

France

50 / 90 / 130

less than 0.5

NO

YES/YES

cone
vest

NO

Germany

50 / 100 / unlimited

less than 0.5

NO

YES/YES

cone
1st aid kit

NO

Austria

50 / 100 / 130

less than 0.5
(0.2 for
novices)

NO

YES/YES

cone
vest
1st aid kit

NO

Belgium

50 / 90 / 120

less than 0.5

NO

YES/YES

cone
fire extinguisher

NO

Croatia

50 / 90 / 130

0 tolerance

NO

YES/YES

cone

YES

Spain

50 / 90 / 120

less than 0.5
(0.3 for novices)

NO

YES/YES

2 cones
vest
spare bulbs

NO

Greece

50 / 70 / 120

less than 0.5

NO

YES/YES

cone
fire extinguisher
1st aid kit

NO

Ireland

50 / 80 / 120

less than 0.8

NO

YES/YES

none

NO

Italiy

50 / 90 / 130

less than 0.5

NO

YES/YES

cone
vest

Yes, on high-speed roadways & highways

Netherlands

50 / 80 / 120

less than 0.5

NO

YES/YES

none

YES

Poland

50 / 90 / 130

less than 0.2

NO

YES/YES

cone
fire extinguisher
1st aid kit

Yes, from October to February

Portugal

50 / 90 / 120

less than 0.5

NO

YES/YES

cone
vest

No, except on the IPS

Czech Republic

50 / 90 /130

0 tolerance

NO

YES/YES

cone
1st aid kit
fuses

YES

United Kingdom

48 / 83 / 112

less than 0.8

YES

YES/YES

cone

NO

Switzerland

50 / 80 / 120

less than 0.5

NO

YES/YES

cone

YES

Prior to departure, learn about insurance and roadside assistance. Although we hope it does not happen, you just might need it.

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