/ Motoring

Would you go Euro and switch miles for km?

Driving in Europe

Whether you’re off on an epic cross country tour, or just doing a cheeky wine run, driving to France is not just a case of bundling yourself into a car and trying to remember to drive on the other side of the road.

Once you’re on French tarmac, it’s worth remembering you’re subject to the law of the new land you find yourself in. Now, you might not know this but that means carrying a warning triangle, reflective jacket and breathalyser.

You’ll also be expected to fit snowchains on snow covered roads. And, just because you’re from Britain, don’t expect to be excluded from these rules should a gendarme come a’tappin on your car window.

Rules of the road

After discussing a few of the rules in Which? HQ, we wondered if people would want to see any such measures be made mandatory (or just recommended) within the UK. Or would it simply be seen as more incessant red tape and ‘we’ll-use-our-own-common-sense-thank-you-very-much!’.

Then a brave soul (having read this letter in The Guardian) piped up: “What about switching to km? Wouldn’t it make things easier?”

Cue chin scratching.

Rules and speeds from Europe in the UK?

Me, I like the idea of reflective jackets inside the car where they can be reached by those who need them (ie, not in the boot). So if your vehicle conks out and you’re forced to pull onto the hard shoulder, you and your passengers would be that more visible getting out of the car and making your way to safety.

As for the switch to km, I can see some sense in it – but the cost of changing every road sign seems like a heck of a price to achieve such a vision.

Would you support a switch from miles to kilometres on British roads?

No (74%, 3,337 Votes)

Yes (26%, 1,174 Votes)

Total Voters: 4,511

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And, while we’re at it, could new, high-quality motorways have no speed limit, either for the whole thing or just sections, just like the autobahn?

Below I’ve listed some rules from countries across Europe. You can see more rules listed on the websites of The AA and RAC.

Continental conventions

France 🇫🇷 : You must carry a breathalyser, a reflective jacket and warning triangle (warning triangle is compulsory in many European countries, but not all), and snow chains must be carried when driving through certain parts of France.

Belgium 🇧🇪 : You must switch the engine off if stationary, unless absolutely necessary. It is prohibited to use cruise control on the motorway in heavy traffic.*

Germany 🇩🇪 : If you have a GPS or sat nav system that can show the location of speed cameras then this function must be disabled or the system must not be carried (this is also fairly common throughout Europe).

Austria 🇦🇹 : You must have a first aid kit.

Spain 🇪🇸 : Those who wear glasses must carry a spare pair.

Netherlands 🇳🇱 : You must give way to buses leaving bus stops in urban areas and you must give way to trams unless traffic lights otherwise indicate.

*Belgium also has this riddle-like road law (which, according to the AA, is rarely enforced) – on one way streets in some cities vehicles must park from the 1st to the 15th of the month on the side of the road where buildings have odd numbers, and from the 16th until the end of the month on the side where buildings have even numbers.

I’d be interested which of these, if any, you’d like to see in the UK. Also, if there are other rules you want to see implemented, do say.

And would you want to switch to km? If not, why not?

Martin Crosbie says:
2 November 2017

Sigh… This should have ended many many years ago. The world cannot operate effectively if we’re all talking in different measurements. Even NASA have lost spacecraft because of people muddling units. The SI definitions of units were set back in the 60’s – why do people use anything but metres? (and KG, etc)

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Philip Lamerton says:
12 December 2017

I have heard of a rule/law in some countries that states when you approach a queue of traffic, anywhere, you must pull over to the left or right to allow emergency vehicles to have clear access, should there be the need for them to be the at front of the queue. Whether this is true or not it makes good sense to do this without thought or question. If you are the one at the front that needs help you would like to think the emergency services can get to you ASAP. This should be made standard procedure and failure to comply should be severely dealt with.

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I believe in the UK moving forward past a red light to allow an emergency vehicle through is an offence – as an emergency vehicle does in principle if it causes undue risk to others. As with police chases, there is no point in trying to save or catch people if in doing so you you injure bystanders. Hopefully common sense prevails.

I pulled into a bus/cycle lane yesterday to allow an ambulance to pass, though I know there are cameras to spot cars in the lane. I hope that I don’t have to argue with someone. In my experience, vehicles are very good at getting out of the way of emergency vehicles.

You break the law by using your common sense to do some things but nobody will listen yo your reasons why You broke the law you must be punished .Might lose my job if I listen to your reason or the computer has decided for me Computers do not have any common sense to use and many humans cannot or will not use the little have Common sense is still necessary in most situations

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Fire engines, Ambulances and Police cars technically still have to obey red lights, but they do have a ‘Home Office Dispensation’ that allows them to do that, providing they take extreme care to avoid hazards. Our nephew and niece are pursuit drivers.