We have plenty of driving laws to be aware of in the UK. If you head abroad and get behind the wheel though, you’ll also need to take note that different countries have their own road laws. However, could Brits benefit from some of the road laws seen across the globe being introduced onto UK roads? VW service providers Vindis investigates…
Drivers must carry a second pair of prescription glasses
Enforced in: Spain
If you’re driving in Spain and require prescription glasses while driving then it’s a requirement that you always have a second pair handy in your vehicle. Fail to show a spare pair and you could be penalised with a small fine.
According to the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), there’s currently more than two million people in the UK living with sight loss. The RNIB predicts that this number will surpass 2.7 million people by 2030 before hitting close to four million by 2050.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency have certain measures in place for the issue of driving and sight loss – the full details on this can be found here. Figures that were released to the Optometry Today following a freedom of information request showed that the DVLA had either revoked or refused 42,519 car and motorcycle licences between 2012 and 2017 due to poor vision. During the same period, it was also found that 6,739 lorry and bus drivers had lost their licence as a result of their failing eyesight.
What is a concern however, is according to the road safety charity Brake’s survey, a quarter of drivers in the UK hadn’t had a visual test in the past 2 years prior to the poll being done. What’s more, four per cent of respondents had never had their eyes tested.
Trevor Warburton, the clinical adviser at the Association of Optometrists, stated to Optometry Today: “In the UK, there is currently no requirement for drivers to have regular sight tests. We believe that compulsory vision screening for all motorists would help ensure that drivers’ vision meets the required standards, significantly reducing the risk of someone having an accident due to their poor vision.”
A ‘colour coding’ system to fight major congestion areas
Enforced in: Manila, the Philippines
If you’re planning a trip to the Philippines and looking to get behind the wheel to get in and out of the metro area of Manila you’ll want to brush up your knowledge of their ‘colour coding’ system. Introduced as a measure to prevent major congestion throughout Manila, the law is linked to the final digit of a vehicle’s number plate. There are a few regulations in place, such as vehicles with a number plate ending in the number 1 or 2 being restricted from driving in Manila’s metro area between 7am and 7pm on Mondays.
Action to battle congestion across the UK will surely be welcomed. After all, a study conducted by traffic data firm INRIX has suggested that the UK is currently the 10th most congested country across the globe and that London is the second most gridlocked city in Europe, behind only Moscow.
INRIX did research into the direct costs, for example wasted fuel and time, as well as the indirect consequences such as higher prices for household goods because of freight fees increasing. From this data, the organisation calculated that drivers in the UK wasted 31 hours last year when they were stuck in rush-hour traffic — at a cost of £1,168 per motorist.
Dr. Graham Cookson, the Chief Economist at INRIX, observed: “Combined with the rising price of motoring, the cost of congestion is astonishing — it takes billions out of the economy and impacts businesses and individuals alike.
“With the Office of National Statistics showing more cars on the road than ever before, we need to consider innovative new approaches to solving the issue. Increased flexible working or road charges have potential, however, transport authorities should be looking to exciting developments in data analytics and AI which promise to reinvent our approach to traffic management.”
Drivers must carry a breathalyser kit in their cars at all times
Enforced in: France
If you’re looking to have a lovely drive across France you’re going to need a breathalyser kit to carry in the vehicle at all times – including using a motorcycle. The devices are there so that motorists can check whether or not they are exceeding the drink-drive limit.
There are several penalties in place if a motorist is caught drink-driving in the UK. A guilty party can expect a hefty fine, a ban from driving, and possibly even imprisonment.
However, it’s unlikely that their will be much resistance at all if British motorists were asked to carry around these kits in their vehicles at all times. This is especially after the Department for Transport reported that around 9,040 people were injured or killed on roads across Britain in 2016 after being involved in incidents where a driver was found to be over the alcohol limit to be behind the wheel.
It’s possible that introducing this law could decrease the number of morning-after drink-drivers. A survey commissioned by the AA showed that 20,000 motorists suggested that one in five motorists had driven the morning after drinking during the previous day — despite the drivers being aware they may still be over the drink-drive limit.
Edmund King, the president of the AA, pointed out to the BBC: “I think people have kind of got the message when they go out in the evening, so they’ll book a taxi or they’ll have a designated driver and they’ll be responsible. But once they get home, they go to bed, they have some sleep, and then they kind of think well I’m OK, it’s the next day.
“So, they’re not equating the next day with what they’ve actually drunk and the problem is if you really have had a lot to drink, your body can only really break down one unit of alcohol per hour…it is relatively easy to be over the limit the next day.”
Snow chains or winter tyres must be used in the snow
Enforced in: Italy
Motorists in Italy must have their cars fitted with snow chains or winter tyres when the snow starts to fall. Fail to follow this law and a driver can expect to be slapped with a fine if caught by the authorities.
Neither of these items are obligatory when the wintry weather hits across the UK. With the effects of the Beast from the East earlier in 2018 still relatively fresh in our memories though, should this change?
As blizzards swept in and weather conditions worsened at the back end of February into the beginning of March, traffic came to stand stills for several hours on the M80 between Stirling and Glasgow, various parts of the A1 were closed several times, and thousands of drivers were left stranded on roads throughout the UK.
In general though, Continental Tyres has suggested that there are 6,393 more accidents involving cars on UK roads in the winter than those recorded in the summer.
Despite the above findings, Flaken tyres carried out a poll that showed a quarter of drivers questioned refused to invest in a set of winter tyres as they thought that the cost of them was too high and 19 per cent said they couldn’t be bothered with the hassle of changing their tyres.
Matt Smith, the UK director at Falken, offered an alternative for Brits: “Switching to an all-season tyre could well be the solution for Britain’s drivers unwilling to commit to pure winter tyres. With many sizes on offer, it is often possible to find a tyre that fits the standard rims, eliminating the cost and hassle of having an extra set, solving another issue raised in the survey.”
Fines for road rage
Enforced in: Cyprus
If you’re driving in Cyprus and get a bit of road rage throwing up rude gestures or waving your fist about at them can lead you to having quite a fine on your hands. The law is linked to motorists being penalised if they unnecessarily raise a hand from their steering wheel while on the road.
Throughout the UK road rage isn’t exactly rare,a Tyreshopper.co.uk poll showed that out of the 2,000 drivers asked, 61% of those had fallen victim to either a verbal or physical attack during a 12 month period. The same survey also established that one in five motorists were left too scared to get back behind the wheel after the ordeal.
The Accident Advice Helpline has carried out their own research into road rage as well, they recorded the average road-related bout of anger only lasts for a few seconds however it can take up to 4 minutes for the drivers to actually calm down completely.
David Carter, from the Accident Advice Helpline, commented: “It’s very easy to get frustrated while driving — it happens to nearly all of us at some point. But road rage can end up being really dangerous. If you experience a bout of road rage, you may end up driving more erratically than whoever annoyed you in the first place.”
As this article has no doubt highlighted, there are some road laws used in countries across the world which law authorities throughout the UK would benefit from enforcing too.