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Unusual European driving rules you need to know

When you move to a new country there are so many things to take on board, not least unfamiliar driving regulations. I’ve whizzed through 14 European countries and picked out some unusual driving rules for you to watch out for. Click on the country name to find out more…

France

Eating, searching in the glove box, listening to loud music (that prevents the driver from hearing normal road noises), and applying make-up can result in a fine.

Belgium

Trams have priority in Belgium, as do their passengers getting on and off.

Germany

In streets where parking is prohibited by sign C18, a motorist can stop for three minutes, or for longer in order to allow passengers to alight or board, or for loading/unloading.

Italy

A driver who has held their licence for three years or less must not exceed 100 Km/h on motorways and 90 Km/h on trunk roads and main highways.

Malta

New drivers are given a probationary licence after passing their driving test, valid for three years. If no points, or fewer than 12 points are accumulated during the three years, a full ten year licence is issued on renewal.

Cyprus

Drive on the left in Cyprus (as in the UK, unlike the rest of western Europe), and watch out new drivers with less than 2 years’ experience – you will get double penalty points for any offences committed.

Gibraltar

Caravans are not permitted in Gibraltar unless they are parked on private land and with permission from HM Customs Gibraltar.

Greece

Flashing of headlights by other vehicles is a warning signal meaning “get out of my way” and does not indicate “you may make your manoeuvre”, as it does in some countries.

Luxembourg

Use M&S tyres in winter conditions. These are not tyres from a well-known retailer! The appropriate tyres are branded “M&S”, “M. S.”, or “M+S” to indicate “Mud and Snow”. This restriction also applies to cars driving through Luxembourg on their way to France, Italy or Germany.

Netherlands

Drivers should pay particular attention to cyclists who may ride two abreast.

Portugal

Suitcases and baggage carried on the vehicle must not exceed the vehicle’s length by more than 45cm at the rear and 55cm at the front.

Spain               

Just about every year, right before the summer silly season, a rumour goes around social media that it’s illegal to drive in Spain in flip flops. Well, it’s not illegal, but if you cause an accident because, for example, your foot slipped on a pedal in adequate footwear, you could end up being fined and getting points on your licence.

Switzerland

It is illegal to drive if the windscreen is partly or completely obscured by frost; it is illegal to let the car idle to aid clearing the windscreen.

UK

You could receive a maximum £1,000 fine and six penalty points if you use their smartphone to pay for a meal at a drive thru. Technically, you’re still moving i.e. your engine is still on. The only time you may use your mobile phone is if you are safely parked, the engine is off and the handbrake is on.

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