This information is prepared by The Caravan Club as part of its
services to members. The contents are believed to be correct at the
date of publication. To find out the latest news, changes to
driving laws, and hints and tips about overseas touring, check the
latest news our new Club Together community pages.
Every country has its own traffic and driving regulations, we
have tried to cover most of these with the information below,
however, more detailed information can be found in our Caravan
Europe guide, volumes one, two and three.
Breathalysers in France
It has been a legal requirement to carry an NF approved
breathalyzer in France since the 1st July 2012,
with a proposed date for implementing a fine of €11.00 for
non-compliance due to start on the 1st March 2013. The
Automobile Club de France have confirmed that the €11.00 fine has
now been postponed indefinitely, however, the requirement to carry
a breathalyzer is still included in the French Highway code (decree
A final decision on this issue is expected to be made by the
French National Council for Road Safety in February 2013.
Breathalyzers can be purchased from most French supermarkets and
pharmacies for approximately €1.50 - €2.00. Alternatively you can
buy a twin pack costing £4.95 plus P & P from the club shop or telephone
Please check your breathalysers for an expiry date (normally two
If you would like to tow a car behind a motor caravan in Europe,
our advice would be to use a trailer with all four wheels of the
car off the ground.
Although most countries in Europe do not have a specific law
banning A-frames they do have a law which prohibits 'a motor
vehicle towing another motor vehicle', and it is down to the local
police how they interpret their own laws.
We have been contacted by a small number of members who have been
stopped and fined for using an A-frame (particularly in Spain), and
the fines range from €42.00 to €250.00. We have also been contacted
by members who have travelled thousands of miles in Europe and not
had any problems at all, however, if you want 100% guarantee that
you are legal, you need to use a trailer with all four wheels of
the car off the ground.
Carriage of bicycles
Bicycles may usually be carried on the roof of a car, provided
they are attached to an adequate roof-rack and the total height
does not exceed 4m. However, the cross-Channel operator will need
to be advised in advance of the total height of the vehicle as this
may affect the cost of your crossing.
Bikes can also be transported at the back of a vehicle provided
they do not obscure lights, indicators or number plates. Bike racks
can only rest on the tow bar if the maximum weight allowed on the
tow bar is not exceeded.
Portuguese regulations stipulate that bicycles may not be carried
at the rear of a car, but they can be carried at the rear of a
motorhome or caravan, provided that they do not extend beyond the
width of the vehicle or more than 45cm beyond its length.
In Spain and Italy any overhanging loads must be indicated by a
square panel measuring 50cm x 50cm with reflectorised red and white
diagonal stripes which can be purchased from Fiamma stockists (www.fiamma.com).
Panels are available in aluminium and plastic and in Spain you can
use either however, in Italy the panel must be aluminium.
Adapt your headlights so that you 'do not dazzle oncoming
traffic' by manually adjusting your lights or by using headlight
converters. Eurolites are available from most motor accessory shops
or on-line at www.travelspot.co.uk.
These headlight converters come with a list of over 600 different
vehicle types, with corresponding diagrams showing you how to
position them. Eurolites are suitable for clear lens, projector and
It is compulsory in Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary,
Italy, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden to use your headlights at all
times. In other countries lights must be used when travelling
through tunnels, or in bad weather.
Low Emission Zones
There are a number of countries that have introduced low
emission zones in towns and cities including: Czech Republic,
Denmark, Germany, Italy, and Sweden.
For up to date details on low emission zones and requirements
please see: www.lowemissionzones.eu
For information on the German cities please see:
If you do not have the new Euro style number plates (12 stars
with GB) then you will need to attach GB stickers to the rear of
Outfits over 12m travelling to Spain
In Spain any car/caravan combinations or motor homes over 12m in
length are required to fit marker boards to the back of the
vehicle. The marker boards must have:
- Plain yellow in the centre with a red outline
- Made of aluminium
- Manufactured to ECE70 standards
You can either have two small boards or one large board, they
must be placed at the back of the outfit between 50cm and 150cm off
the ground, the smaller boards can be attached horizontally or
vertically. Marker boards can be purchased from most HGV suppliers
including HGV Direct, www.hgvdirect.co.uk
telephone: 0845 686 0008.
In most European countries it is a legal requirement to carry a
warning triangle (in Spain two are recommended if you are towing)
and high visibility vests for all passengers travelling in the
vehicle. In some countries the law requires you to put the high
visibility vest on before you exit the vehicle, so vests should not
be kept in the boot of the car. A first aid kit is a legal
requirement in Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, and Hungary, and
recommended in most other countries. It is also recommended to
carry a fire extinguisher. For a complete list of compulsory
equipment requirements please see link below (see *
Most European countries have banned the use of hand held mobile
phones whilst driving, and the drink/drive limit can be much lower
than here in the UK, in the Czech Republic for instance no amount
of alcohol in the blood is tolerated whilst driving.
At the approach to some roundabouts in France you will see a sign
'Vous n'avez pas la priorité'. This shows that traffic on the
roundabout has priority. If there is no such sign, traffic entering
the roundabout has priority. Other common signs are 'Toutes
Directions' (all directions), 'Autres Directions' (other routes)
and 'Péage' (toll motorway).
In some towns and villages the speed limit of 50kph/30mph is not
signposted, instead the name of the town/village is displayed on a
rectangular sign edged in red, this sign signifies that the speed
limit is 50kph. At the exit to the town/village there will be a
similar sign edged in black with a red line through the name, once
you have passed this sign the speed limit increases to what it was
before you arrived at the town/village.
In France pedestrians have priority over vehicles when crossing a
road. Pedestrians need to "show a clear intention to cross"
described as "an ostensible step forward or a hand gesture" The
only exception to this rule is where there is a designated
pedestrian crossing less than 50m away. Drivers who ignore this
rule and do not stop for pedestrians waiting to cross the road can
receive a fine of up to €135.00.
A solid white line down the centre of the road prohibits
overtaking. In Spain this line must not be crossed to execute a
left turn, despite the lack of any other 'no left turn' sign.
If necessary, proceed to a 'cambio de sentido' (change of
direction) sign to turn. Also in Spain, many roads have a single
white line on the near (verge) side of the carriageway; this marks
a narrow lane for pedestrians and/or cyclists and is not for use as
a hard shoulder. A continuous line also indicates 'no
stopping' even if it is possible to park entirely off the road, it
should not be crossed except in a serious emergency.
Halt signs mean halt - on the spot fines are imposed on motorists
creeping forward at these signs. When stopping at traffic lights,
ensure that you stop soon enough so that you can still see the
colour of the lights as they can be to the side or high overhead
without a further set in front.
In nearly all European countries it is illegal to use car
navigation systems which actively search for mobile speed cameras
or interfere with police equipment (laser or radar detection). Car
navigation systems which give a warning of fixed speed camera
locations are legal in most countries with the exception of
France, Germany and Switzerland where this function must be
In Austria, it is now compulsory to have emergency corridors on
all duel carriageways and motorways when there is congestion, this
precautionary emergency corridor is created by drivers in the left
hand lane moving as far to the left as they can, and drivers in the
right hand side moving as far over to the right as they can,
leaving a clear path down the middle of the road for the emergency
services. A similar system has also been introduced in Slovenia and
the Czech Republic.
Compulsory equipment requirements