Poor driving? When in Rome...

In the words of Joey Tribbiani, "Va Fa Napoli!" Image: State Farm
"Holidaymakers driving abroad familiarise themselves with the driving laws and the road signage of the country they are travelling to" Gareth Robinson, Carrentals.co.uk
  • | by Abbie Laughton-Coles

Italy is renowned for many things including pizza, pasta, fashion and Vespas. However it can now add the dubious accolade of being the worst country to drive in to the list, according to a poll of British motorists.

A study of 2,000 British drivers by Carrentals.co.uk, found that we just can't get to grips with Italy's erratic drivers, busy city centre streets and poor quality roads - things which are clearly completely alien to us in Britain, right?

It appears that the stereotypical 'hot-blooded' nature of our Mediterranean cousins extends to their driving abilities too, with complaints of unwarranted horn-beeping, lane-weaving and Giancarlo Fisichella-esque speed. However, they may have cause to put their pedal to the metal as the speed limits are generally higher than in the UK, at 80mph (130km/h) on the Italian motorways compared to our 70mph (120km/h).

Managing director of Carrentals.co.uk, Gareth Robinson said: "Driving abroad can be stressful, especially if you are not experienced at it. Most countries, even those in Europe will have different road markings, terrain, signs and laws to consider."

The poll also found that driving on the 'wrong' side of the road and using a left-hand drive car makes us a little tense, so it's not surprising that one in seven of us have been involved in a car accident abroad.

And although those picturesque cliff top roads in the holiday brochure may seem exotic, it seems that driving along one is more hair-raising than relaxing for us.

It's also worth noting that the drink driving laws in Italy are stricter than here in the UK, with anything over 0.5mg blood alcohol illegal, compared to 0.8mg in Britain. So consider skipping the grappa if you're getting behind the wheel, especially since one in seven of us have been pulled over by the police whilst abroad, with a quarter of these due to drink driving.

But we're not going to be put off driving on holiday that easily, right? So, for those who are brave enough to tackle the roads of Europe, Robinson recommends: "Holidaymakers driving abroad familiarise themselves with the driving laws and the road signage of the country they are travelling to."

As well as this, always make sure you have adequate car insurance cover for driving abroad, and if you can, think about taking out excess insurance or collision damage waiver cover. If your comprehensive car insurance includes European cover, check you get the same amount of cover when you're abroad as you're back home, not just third-party. It's essential that you take a moment to browse the terms and conditions of your breakdown cover too. For more information, it's worth browsing Gocompare.com's guide to car insurance for driving in Europe.

Another top tip is to phone the emergency services if you have been in an accident, no matter how small. A police report can be useful when making an insurance claim, especially if you have hired a vehicle whilst on holiday.

However, it doesn't seem quite fair to pin all our holiday driving nightmares onto the Italians. After all, France and Spain came in a close second and third respectively...

Over to you: would the driving situation in another country put you off taking a holiday on there? Let us know via Twitter or Facebook.