Going for a holiday in France? Taking your own car? Well, there’s a whole load of car safety kit you’ll need if you’re to avoid being fined. But are these car safety requirements more hassle than they’re worth?
So you’ve waited and planned all year for your annual trek abroad. Everybody is wound up with excitement. It’s the Friday before the Saturday you’re booked on the Chunnel and you’ve finished your last day’s toil for a whole fortnight. But instead of feeling relaxed, you’ve got lists!
A list of car safety extras
You’re running round in “headless chicken mode”, looking for all those extras required just to drive in France – every bulb your car can need, red emergency triangle, more bulbs, a first aid kit, another bulb you forgot about, and the family, their luggage, and, oh yes, the passports. Mustn’t forget the passports!
Well the passports are essential, and so is, I suppose, the family and the luggage – but are all those bulbs really needed? And what about the red triangle? It fills a gap in the boot – maybe one you don’t have – but you aren’t planning to breakdown are you?
As for the bulbs, well they take up half the glove box and you aren’t sure if you could change the headlamp bulbs yourself anyway, are you? So are they worth the hassle?
Do you need all this safety kit?
In my view the answer has to be yes. It’s one thing to run round familiar roads, risking the odd breakdown or blown bulb, knowing you can call for help or pop to Halfords for a new bulb to be fitted.
It’s a whole different kettle of fish to find yourself on a dark French country lane, with the rain pouring down and no phone signal. You keep reminding yourself that the traffic will come from the opposite direction, on the wrong side of the road, so that red triangle will be a godsend – warning others (after all it is a “warning” triangle) that you’re round the next bend, potentially with excited or tired family, milling around in the road.
And if a bulb blows, you won’t have to search around for the French equivalent of Halford (L’alfords perhaps?), or somewhere where they speak enough English to understand what you need is “Une ampoule d’indicateur pour ma voiture.”
Bring this safety kit to Britain
I’m convinced it would make sense to carry all those little odds and sods that are mandatory for continental driving in the UK. Not only would it potentially avoid seeing all those cars with a dud headlamp coming at you like a crazed motorbike, but it would also mean that last minute panic before your holiday would be a thing of the past and you could focus on relaxing earlier than you do right now.
To avoid being served up with an on-the-spot fine, or even having your car impounded in France, here’s a list of all those bits and bobs required by visiting drivers:
- Headlamp Adaptors – so you don’t dazzle oncoming traffic
- GB Stickers – mandatory to let everyone know where the car is registered
- Warning Triangle – to be placed 50-150 metres (320-480 ft) behind your car if you break down
- Fluorescent Safety Vest
- Spare Bulbs
- First Aid Kit
- Fire Extinguisher
- Spare glasses – yes, believe it or not, if you need glasses or contact lenses to drive, you must carry a second pair
- You may also need your glasses to read the reams of documentation you’re carrying, including UK Driving Licence, car registration and insurance policy documents