Have a summer holiday free from motoring stress
Looking forward to your summer getaway? Each year, thousands and thousands of UK drivers make the journey overseas, but fail to prepare and that long-awaited family trip in a company car could turn into a bureaucratic nightmare. AAM Group’s advice is be prepared and don’t wait until the last minute to check all documentation and essential equipment is in place.
This year sees new rules in force impacting on continental journeys while, depending on which countries you will be driving in could require key items of equipment to be carried in the vehicle.
What’s more, AAM Group is advising any drivers taking a rental car abroad this summer to check the mileage they expect to be clocking up on their summer holiday and compare it with their mileage allowance - travel too far and an expensive bill could await on returning home as the allowance is used up.
“Talk to AAM Group today about all paperwork and where you are going and what legally required equipment is required in the vehicle, as well as your permitted mileage allowance” said rental services director Mark Thompson. “We are here to help and advise and make sure you and your family have a holiday to remember for all the right reasons.”
A key document that must be in the possession of all drivers taking a vehicle abroad when travelling through most European countries is one highlighting who owns the car being driven.
In the case of a company car being owned by a driver’s employer that means being in possession of the vehicle’s registration document (V5C). However, if the vehicle is leased or hired than a Vehicle on Hire certificate (VE103) must be carried instead, which gives the owner’s permission for the vehicle to be driven overseas. If requiring a VE103 then it can be provided by AAM Group.
Meanwhile, company car drivers journeying to Paris, Lyon and Grenoble must display vehicle emissions stickers in their vehicles following the launch by the cities of the Crit’Air scheme. It is expected that a further 22 French towns and cities will introduce the system by 2020.
The Crit’Air system is designed to tackle pollution and is used on days when air quality is poor to prevent the worst polluting vehicles from driving in affected cities.
Stickers, which cost £3.60 (€4.18) each including postage, come in six categories and cover the very cleanest electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles (Crit’Air green sticker) to the dirtiest (Crit’Air 5 grey sticker). These relate to the six European Union emission standards for cars - dating back to 1992 when Euro1 was introduced. The penalty for failure to display a sticker is an on-the-spot fine of between €68-135 (£58 to £117). Vignettes can be ordered from the official Crit’Air website - www.certificat-air.gouv.fr/ - and should be delivered within 30 days. To apply for a sticker online drivers must know their vehicle’s European Emissions Standard.
Additionally, new European Union regulations mean member states, including the UK, have to share information on drivers relating to traffic offences - with significant implications for fleets. The so-called Cross-Border Enforcement Directive, actually came into force two years ago, but the UK secured a derogation giving it until May to implement the change.
Critically, there are widespread implications for fleets and drivers as there are differences in member state laws around whether the driver or the registered keeper of a vehicle is responsible following an offence.
The Directive enables European Union drivers to be potentially identified for offences committed in a member state other than the one where their vehicle is registered.
In practical terms, the Directive provides member states access to each other’s vehicle registration data via an electronic information system to exchange the necessary information relating to where the offence was committed and the country in which the vehicle was registered. Once the vehicle owner’s name and address are known, a letter to the presumed offender may be sent.
The Directive covers the eight most common traffic offences: Speeding, failing to use a seatbelt, failing to stop at a red traffic light, drink-driving, driving while under the influence of drugs, failing to wear a safety helmet, the use of a forbidden lane and illegally using a mobile telephone or any other communication devices while driving.
But the Directive does not harmonise either the nature of the offences, nor the system of sanctions for the offences. So it is the national rules in the member state of offence, which continue to apply regarding both the nature of the offence and sanctions.
RAC spokesman Simon Williams said how the new law would work was unclear. He explained: “Unfortunately the application of the Directive is simply not practical. In the UK it is the driver of a speeding vehicle who receives penalty points whereas in France it is the vehicle’s registered keeper who is deemed to be responsible. This means a French person caught speeding in the UK could get away with the offence if they were not the registered keeper of the vehicle concerned, as the French equivalent of the DVLA can only pass details of the offence to the keeper. This may make prosecution extremely hard for UK authorities.
“And if a UK driver is caught speeding in France in a vehicle they are not the owner of, they too might get away with the fine as the registered keeper in the UK would be pursued by the French authorities to pay. While the keeper can state in response they were not the driver, the big question is: will French authorities pursue and fine keepers who claim they weren’t driving at the time?”
The RAC said it had been advised by the Department for Transport that there was no transfer of penalty points to UK drivers’ licences for speeding offences committed abroad.
Nevertheless, said Mr Williams: “We strongly recommend every motorist travelling to Europe by car familiarises themselves with the local rules of the road as it is ultimately their responsibility to do so.”
Best practice advice suggests company car drivers travelling abroad should be in possession of their full driving licence, a copy of their DVLA driver record and a licence check code if needed, an international driving permit (required in some countries) and vehicle insurance certificate as well as the V5C or VE103. Furthermore, vehicles should display a GB sticker, unless the car has number plates including the GB euro-symbol and in the car should be reflective jackets, a warning triangle and headlamp converters for night and poor weather driving.
It is also best practice to check the rules of the road of the countries you will be travelling through in advance because some may be different to the UK.
For example, all vehicles using Austrian motorways and expressways must display a motorway toll sticker (vignette). The stickers, which are valid for one calendar year, two months or 10 days, can be purchased at some petrol stations located close to the border in neighbouring countries and in Austria: at the frontier, at petrol stations, post offices, tobacconists or in ÖAMTC offices. Fines for driving without a vignette are a minimum €120. Meanwhile, in France drivers of all motor vehicles and motorcycles (excluding mopeds) must carry a breathalyser.
- Country-by-country motoring information is available on the AA website at https://www.theaa.com/european-breakdown-cover/driving-in-europe and the RAC website at http://www.rac.co.uk/drive/travel/driving-abroad/.