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Travel Safely During your Gap Year Abroad - Recent Changes to Laws for Foreign Drivers

Travel Safely During your Gap Year Abroad

Monday 26th September 2011

Be aware of local transport reliability, laws and safety

Recent changes have been made to laws for foreign travellers and drivers in Europe in particular.

Travelling abroad, from country to country, on your gap year can involve a variety of different transport types. You can fly, go by train, bus or self-drive, but for any of these modes of transport you must be aware of the legal issues for that particular country, if you are unlucky enough to be involved in an accident, or cause one yourself. Everyone wants to enjoy their gap year as much as they can, so knowing what pitfalls to avoid in advance, such as running out of petrol, breaking down on an autobahn, running out of cash, and what to do if you’re injured. Check the Foreign Office website for current and updated rules for travelling in the country you are heading to on your gap year.

If you’re planning to drive around Europe you should be aware that recent changes have been made to rules for foreign drivers abroad. The European Commission Vice President, Siim Kallas said. "The four big killers like speeding and drunk driving are still responsible for thousands of needless deaths on Europe's roads, and each death shatters a family's life. We know that a foreign driver is three times more likely to commit an offence than a resident driver. These new rules should have a powerful deterrent effect and change behaviour. Many people still seem to think that when they go abroad the rules no longer apply to them. My message is that they do apply and now we are going to apply them."

Drivers, in particular, will be punished for traffic offences they commit abroad, including the four "big killers" causing 75% of road fatalities which are speeding, breaking traffic lights, failure to use seatbelts and drink driving.

Following the deaths of four gap year travellers in a tragic bus accident in Thailand earlier this year, the Foreign Office has also upgraded its advice to specifically warn of the dangers of travelling by bus on Thai roads. The FO advice now includes: "In Thailand 124,855 people were killed in road traffic accidents between 2000 and 2010, meaning that on average there are over 12,000 deaths a year from road traffic accidents. In the UK there have been on average about 3,000 deaths from road traffic accidents each year over the past decade."