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Title: Everything you need to know about driverless cars

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Summary: If you want to get truly high tech when considering your next car update, you’ll first need to remove something once thought of as essential from the equation; the driver.

Meta Title: How Do Driverless Cars Work

Meta Description: Have you ever wondered how driverless cars work? Find out everything you need to know in this guide from Bristol Street Motors.

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driverless cars

If you want to get truly high tech when considering your next car update, you’ll first need to remove something once thought of as essential from the equation; the driver.

Spearheaded by research carried out by organisations like Tesla and Google, alongside contributions from major car manufacturers like Ford and Audi, it looks like the future of driving is autonomous. To help brace you for the day when steering wheels and accelerators are things of the past, we’ve put together a guide containing everything you need to know about the driverless car.

What is a driverless car?

Not to state the obvious, but a driverless car is just that; a car without a driver. In theory, rather than a person needing to steer, accelerate, and change gears to control a vehicle, the car would be in control of itself. Some models are proposed to give complete control to the vehicle, whilst some won’t be entirely autonomous, allowing passengers to take control if needed.

How would a driverless car work?

Many cars previously marketed as driverless or autonomous have heavily relied on environmental cues in order to properly function. A prime example of this was General Motor’s 1959 Firebird II, a concept car designed to magnetically interact with metal inserted in roads – the “highway of the future” – to offer a driverless experience.

However, vehicles that rely on outside cues in order to function are no longer truly regarded as autonomous. We’ve come a long way since the 50’s, and the driverless car of the near future will use a number of more high tech systems to get around. Many of these – such as GPS, video cameras, radars – are already present in some cars.

In essence, a driverless car needs to take in information from the outside world, and process this quickly, like a computer. For example, a vehicle would use GPS, radar, and lasers to find and position itself within its surroundings, “learning” where roads end, where traffic lights are, and speed limit areas. Before a journey, the car would need to set a start and end point, and could receive live information to be notified or the best route and any traffic along the way.

How safe are driverless cars?

One of the ultimate goals of driverless cars is to make roads – and driving in general – safer. In a world where all cars are autonomous, and able to react with each other on the road, this may very well be true.

However, the likelihood of conventional cars being immediately dropped and replaced by autonomous vehicles is pretty much impossible. When – or if – driverless cars first take to the roads, they’ll be driving alongside vehicles manned by people, something that could actually increase the danger levels on the roads, as reported in a study carried out by the University of Michigan.

Much of the potential safety concerns surrounding self-driving cars comes from their inability to learn and gain experience as human drivers do. The study also reports that whilst a road full of autonomous vehicles may be safer than a road full of inexperienced new drivers, it won’t be safer than a road full of experienced drivers, who’ve learned to predict and adapt to the behaviour of other motorists.

Who is making driverless cars?

Whilst most vehicle manufacturers are involved in researching the production of autonomous vehicles, some companies have taken (or let go of) the steering wheel and sped ahead.

Google

One of the most notable companies researching and testing these cars isn’t actually a vehicle manufacturer. Since 2011, Google has been testing a fleet of driverless cars, covering around 1.7 million miles so far. At the time of writing, the fleet consists of 23 Lexus SUV’s, and is currently permitted to legally test in only 5 U.S states.

Google’s prototype vehicle operates with the help of a LIDAR laser system, allowing the car to “see” its surroundings. Safety has been a minor concern, with Google’s vehicles being involved in 11 minor collisions to date. However, Google say these were caused not by the on board computer, either being due to other drivers or the vehicle being driven manually.

Audi

Audi are making big strides towards being able to offer driverless cars to the public with their A7 Sportback. The A7 isn’t an entirely autonomous vehicle, and in built up areas mostly requires a driver to take the reins. However, when out of the city the A7 is able to competently drive itself; something Audi are obviously confident of, having “driven” the A7 a whole 500 miles from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas unaided.

Audi have stated that the A7 is able to drive itself at speeds of around 70mph on relatively straight roads, providing traffic is minimal. If the car senses traffic or a built up environment, it will indicate that a passenger take the wheels. However, whilst this system might transfer well to the long open roads of the western U.S.A, it’s perhaps not going to be most applicable to the curves and traffic of the British road.

Tesla

Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors has always positioned itself as a thought leader when it comes to new vehicle technology, so it’s no surprise that the company has invested in researching and producing autonomous cars.

Since late 2014, Tesla’s Model S has been manufactured with a rooftop mounted camera, forward looking radar, and ultrasonic location sensors in the front and rear bumpers. Using this technology, the Model S can detect road signs, lane markings, and other vehicles, and in combination with the cars cruise control can provide a semi-autonomous driving experience. With auto-pilot “computer on wheels” technology, the Model S allows drivers to travel hands free should they choose, and perhaps offers something as close to a driverless experience currently available for consumers to purchase.

When can I get a driverless car?

The timeframe for driverless cars being made available to consumers varies widely depending on the source. Whilst many cars currently have semi-autonomous features such as assistive parking and auto-pilot, there isn’t currently a fully driverless vehicle available.

Ford’s CEO Mark Fields has stated he expects a full driverless car to be available by 2020, although that this is unlikely to be a Ford vehicle. Audi have stated that they expect to have an autonomous car, albeit a limo, available to purchase by 2017, whilst Nissan have set a target of 2020, and Jaguar and Land Rover have given 2024 as an expected year.

With this in mind, it’s not unreasonable to expect to be able to purchase some form of driverless car within the next 10 years. That’s providing that the right laws exist to permit them; driverless cars are a murky legal area in the UK, with legislation set to be reviewed in 2017.

So, whilst you might not be able to buy a driverless car from Bristol Street Motors quite yet, keep an eye out. In a few years (or decades), we might be able to offer you a completely hands free test drive. In the meantime check out the new cars we do have in stock.

Author: Tom

Title: How to Drive Economically

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Summary: With energy prices on a seemingly endless rise over the past few years, the fuel we use to power our essential day to day activities can end up costing us a lot more than we’d like it to. However, with a few handy tips and tricks, saving car fuel can be a doddle any time of year.

Meta Title: How to Drive Economically

Meta Description: Check out the Bristol Street Motors guide on how to drive economically, if you require any additional advice please don’t hesitate to contact the team.

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Driving on a UK motorway

With energy prices on a seemingly endless rise over the past few years, the fuel we use to power our essential day to day activities can end up costing us a lot more than we’d like it to.

However, with a few handy tips and tricks, saving car fuel can be a doddle any time of year. If you’re looking to cut your petrol and diesel costs, our guide on driving economically should set you on your way to fuel efficiency. Not only could you save money, but in our increasingly eco-friendly world, you might also be helping the planet too.

Keep your car well maintained

It can sometimes be easy to become complacent about the state of our cars so long as they’re not causing us any real inconveniences, but let’s face it – that black smoke coming out of your exhaust isn’t “normal”. Regular maintenance is essential, and an easy starting point is to just check your tyre pressure. If your tyres are underinflated, they’ll create more resistance on the road, meaning you’ll use more fuel even when driving normally.

Another easy, day to day bit of maintenance you should do is to check your oil. If you’re using the wrong type, this can affect your cars performance, and again use up more fuel.

Get serviced

Performing a little everyday DIY to make sure your car is running well is recommended, but unless you’re a qualified mechanic, there’s probably a few things you’ll be unable to notice about your car’s performance and fuel consumption. Whilst you might like to boast about your skills to your mates, there’s only so much you can do, so put down that wrench and get into your nearest garage. Regular servicing won’t only ensure your car’s engine is running efficiently, but can also help spot other problems it’d be hard to notice yourself, such as dirty air filters.

Slim down

Driving with excess weight is one of the easiest ways to end up paying more for fuel. We’re not suggesting a crash diet – just limiting what you carry with you on a day to day basis. Whilst it’s fine to carry emergency essentials like spare tyres, if you’re a bit of a car hoarder, it might be time to have a bit of a clear out; do you really need to carry that set of golf clubs with you everywhere?

If you have a roof rack or roof box on top of your vehicle, you’ll only be increasing wind resistance, making your car work harder and using up more fuel. Removing inessential roof racks and luggage can streamline your car, making it more aerodynamic and thus more economic.

For all you boy racers out there, it might be time to ditch those spoilers. It’s often thought that spoiler improve the aerodynamics of a car, but in reality they do the opposite, increasing traction and therefore fuel usage.

Plan your journey

Before setting off, double check that you’re certain of your route and destination. Those wrong turns and endless minutes searching for parking spaces can all add up to cost you money. While in theory a sat nav should be the answer, anybody who’s spent any time shouting at the tiny voice trapped in the box will be able to tell you otherwise.

If you’re really uncertain of your route and destination, go old-school and check a road map. If anything it’s worth it for the warm, smug feeling you’ll get after reaching your destination and ignoring the worried commands of Mr or Mrs Nav.

Alter your driving style

We’re not going to tell you how to drive, and this doesn’t mean calling up your old driving instructor for a reunion. However, there are a few tricks you can incorporate in order to cut down on fuel consumption.

If you’re able to, keep rolling. Frequent stopping and starting is a major source of fuel usage, so try keep moving without braking as much as you can.

Don’t slam on the brakes, and make slowing down as smooth as possible. Make sure your timing is right, and release the accelerator in time to avoid having to change gear.

Keep to speed limits. It’s fairly obvious, but the faster you drive, the more fuel you’ll use.

If you’re not driving, turn of the engine. If you’re waiting static and not in traffic, there’s no reason for your engine to be running, and you’re simply wasting fuel.

Turn off inessential electrics

Both air conditioning and heating systems are big drains on fuel, and you should only use them if really needed. When turning on heating, never blast the heat out full whack. If you put the seat on a lower setting, your car will just take a little longer to warm up, but will still be toasty. While opening windows in summer is a bigger drain on fuel consumption than air conditioning, this doesn’t mean this can be turned up to the highest setting. Again, set the air conditioning on a low or medium setting, and in time your car will feel cool and comfortable.

Whether you’re looking to save the planet or just a few pennies, we hope our guide to driving economically has given you a few valuable tips. If you’d like specific advice for the car you own, simply get in contact with your local Bristol Street Motors dealership, and we’ll be happy to help you out.

Author: Tom

Title: Everything You Need to Know About Uber

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Summary: Unless you’ve been living underneath a rock, it’s likely you’ll have heard the word “Uber” slipping into casual conversation over the past few months. From London to Leeds and now Newcastle, we’ve seen Uber spread rapidly throughout the UK in the past few months, something dubbed in the media as “Uberification”.

Meta Title: What Is Uber Taxi

Meta Description: Check out everything you need to know about Uber from The Taxi Centre. Please contact the team if you need additional information.

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Ordering an Uber taxi

Unless you’ve been living underneath a rock, it’s likely you’ll have heard the word “Uber” slipping into casual conversation over the past few months. From London to Leeds and now Newcastle, we’ve seen Uber spread rapidly throughout the UK in the past few months, something dubbed in the media as “Uberification”.

Uber has sparked both praise and protests, has polarised the general public, has been the subject of government investigations, and in some countries has even been banned altogether. If you’ve just been thinking that your friends or colleagues have been brushing up on their German, it might be time to read our guide to everything you need to know about Uber.

What is Uber?

Uber is a “ride share” service, a mobile app that allows users to book a taxi with the push of a few buttons. Founded in 2009 after friends Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp spent an evening struggling to get a cab in Paris, the service has spread worldwide from its home base of San Francisco.

With Uber, a user’s location is determined through GPS, allowing drivers nearby to be seen on a real-time map. Once users select a free driver, the driver is notified of the user’s location. In some locations, users may be able to select a specific type of car to pick them up. A price estimate is given, and there’s no hard cash involved; all rides are paid via a credit or debit card previously connected to a person’s account.

How is an Uber different to a taxi?

At its core, getting a ride in an Uber is pretty similar to getting a ride in a regular Taxi; a destination is set, you’re driven to the destination, and then money exchanges hands. Sure, the way this is done might be slightly different to the traditional model, but it’s not that far removed; many taxi companies now have their own apps, offer card payment, and price estimates are nothing new.

However, there are a number of fundamentals that set Uber apart from the traditional taxi company model. For example, Uber’s drivers technically aren’t Uber’s drivers – they’re self-employed – and the company owns zero cars. This is because the company views itself as a crowd sourcing service, meaning that drivers and their vehicles are merely sourced for work rather than employed. At the moment, drivers automatically pay Uber a 20% commission on any earnings they make.

Where can I get an Uber?

At the time of writing, you’ll only be able to find an Uber in 6 of cities around the UK and Ireland; Birmingham, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle, and Dublin. They have a much larger presence around the world, especially in the U.S, where the service was founded.

Certain U.S states, cities worldwide, and a handful of countries have placed restrictions on Uber. Some countries, like Spain, Brazil and China have banned the company from operating altogether, making the Uber app illegal to download, and fining drivers found to be operating in their name.

The legality of Uber is also currently being assessed in a number of countries, with decisions set to be made on whether drivers would be breaking laws by offering services on behalf of the company. However, Uber still operates in some countries despite their operations being declared unlawful, with the Netherlands and India being two notable examples.

 Why is Uber controversial in the UK?

It’s safe to say that Uber’s worldwide expansion has been met with a mixed reaction, for a number of reasons.

Passenger safety

Many people are concerned with the safety of the company, as so long as a person has a car they’re eligible to register as a driver. However, in the UK drivers must conform to city council legislations, meaning that before registering they’ll need to pass a DBS check.

Lack of regulation

Concern has come from the established taxi industry, with drivers of council regulated and private hire concerns launching protests and strikes at the announcement of Uber’s spread to the UK. Many have concerns over Uber’s “crowd sourced” business model and apparent lack of regulation, viewing Uber as operating separate to established laws and codes of conduct governing taxi drivers. Most councils in the UK have countered these claims by stating that in order for Uber to operate it has to abide by current legislation; for example, all vehicles operating on behalf of Uber here need to be licensed, whereas in some countries they do not.

Meters/Fare Estimate

Perhaps the most widely reported disagreement with Uber occurred after the company announced its expansion to London in September 2014. Registered black cab drivers took to the streets to protest, causing controversy and widespread traffic disruption. The main concerns of the protestors came from Uber’s fare estimate service, and the fact that rides are priced based on distance and time – something that drivers equated to a meter in a black cab. As in London its only legal for black cabs to operate with meters, drivers believed that the company was acting illegally. However, Transport for London disagreed, stating that Uber was doing nothing to break the law.

Payment Problems

Many users have also faced problems with Uber’s payment system. Cases of passengers being charged too much, and drivers purposefully overcharging by thousands and then unregistering from the company have been reported. As Uber doesn’t employ its drivers, they claim no responsibility for cases of overcharging or fraud, limiting how those affected can seek resolution or compensation.

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Whatever you think of Uber, it’s safe to say the company’s introduction to Britain has already altered the face of taxi operations in the UK. Whether you’re thinking of putting together a fleet and competing against the service, or getting your own taxi and hitting the streets as a self-employed driver, you’ll find everything you need at The Taxi Centre. Why not get in touch today, and we’ll be happy to help you out with your decision.

Author: Tom

Title: Around the World in 15 Taxis

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Summary: Cab, tup tup, jeepney or jitney; whatever you call them, when you’re lost, tired or just need to get somewhere fast, the taxi is a sight for sore eyes.

Meta Title: Around the World in 15 Taxis | The Taxi Centre

Meta Description: Come around the world in 15 taxis and see new taxis for sale at The Taxi Centre.

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infographic infographic infographic infographic infographic infographic infographic infographic infographic infographic infographic infographic

Around the World in 15 Taxis

Cab, tup tup, jeepney or jitney; whatever you call them, when you’re lost, tired or just need to get somewhere fast, the taxi is a sight for sore eyes.

Ever since motorised travel first came into use in the 19th century, people with nous and knowledge of the road have charged willing passengers for their services. Production of the first motorised taxi fleet is attributed to a few names and nations. One claim to the title of the first motor taxi is the Reimenwagen, produced by German industrialist Gottlieb Daimler and put into public use in 1897. However, in the same year Walter C Bersey’s fleet was set out onto the streets of London, and in New York the Samuel’s Electric Carriage and Wagon Company put their efforts out onto the road.

Whilst surely being new and exciting, by modern comparisons first motorised taxis were rickety, slow, and mostly meter-less, meaning that the both passengers and drivers could often be unsure of the correct fare price. They were also reportedly annoyingly noisy, with Bersey’s London fleet being dubbed “hummingbirds” due to the constant hum they’d emit when running.

However, they were probably an improvement on what preceded. Before motorised taxi cabs, you’d need to turn to animals if you wanted to get somewhere quickly. In London and Paris, horse and carriage taxi services became standard from the 17th century. These were the first Hackney Carriages, the term “Hackney” coming from the French haquenée – a small to medium sized horse – and sharing it’s etymology with the London borough of the same name. Taxi services in the 17th century operated in a surprisingly similar manner to today, with Inns acting as ranks, and passengers given the liberty to choose drop off points.

With the rapid development of industry in the 19th century providing the means and materials to mass produce motorised methods of transport, animal taxis were made practically obsolete in the developed world. However, in remote and developing areas where vehicles might be impractical, the animal taxi still exists. In many cases these are geared towards tourists, with the attraction of riding on a husky propelled sled, a Saharan camel, or an elephant surely having visitors rushing to ranks cash in hand. Many animal taxis may also be multi-purpose, with the animal performing agricultural duties during the day and being hired out on a needs must basis.

It’s not only the types of taxis that differ around the world, but also the cultures of practice surrounding them. For most readers, a taxi is probably something hired from a rank or company, with a price paid based on a standard meter, but this is far from the norm. Take for example Russia, which has a huge unlicensed taxi trade, with many people working as drivers for short periods after their full time jobs. In Moscow, it’s even common for civilian drivers to offer lifts on an individual basis when flagged down, agreeing a price before setting off.

Many countries also have taxis that are far more collective than those in the western world will be used to. Whilst taxi sharing in the U.K or U.S.A is something done infrequently to split a cost, in countries like Haiti and Nigeria “share taxis” exist in their own public transport category. At first glance, a share taxi may resemble a bus, with a large group of passengers paying a driver before setting off. However, share taxis are free to stop and pick up where they please, dropping off passengers to whatever destination they want.

Whether you’ve passed The Knowledge or were just taxi curious, we hope you’ve enjoyed this infographic. If you want to know about the taxis available to you, why not check out the cars on display at The Taxi Centre. We might not be able to get you a seaplane or an elephant, but we’re sure you’ll find a new taxi deal you love.

Author: Tom

Title: A Guide to the Most Economical Taxis

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Summary: For over a decade, the annual mileage of the average British driver has been dropping steadily year on year, due to factors like rising fuel costs, changes in shopping habits, and increased congestion. The most recent 2013 survey showed an average mileage of just 7900 miles per vehicle, a 1200 miles reduction from 11 years previous.

Meta Title: A Guide to the Most Economical Taxis | The Taxi Centre

Meta Description: Check out the guide to the most economical taxis from the experts at The Taxi Centre. Contact the team for more information.

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For over a decade, the annual mileage of the average British driver has been dropping steadily year on year, due to factors like rising fuel costs, changes in shopping habits, and increased congestion. The most recent 2013 survey showed an average mileage of just 7900 miles per vehicle, a 1200 miles reduction from 11 years previous.

However, it’s perhaps safe to say that the taxi driver isn’t exactly the “average British driver”. In fact, whereas mileage for the general population dropped, surveys show that a vast majority of taxi drivers cover over 10,000 miles in a working year, with over a quarter exceeding the 30,000 miles mark.

When your car is your livelihood, a focus of fuel economy should be key, whether you’re concerned with saving money, the environment, or simply want to minimise trips to the petrol station. To help you choose the car that’s right for you, we’ve put together a guide to some of the most economical taxis on the market.

SEAT Toledo 1.6 TDi Ecomotive Diesel

Seat Toledo Taxi

CO2 (g/km): 104

MPG: 72.4

Road Tax: £20

Proving that fuel economy doesn’t have to mean loss of power is the SEAT Toledo, a medium sized 5 door with a lot to offer. Whilst the Toledo may look like a compact saloon, it’s actually a roomy hatchback, crated and marketed as a competitor to the Ford Focus. However, don’t let this lull you into thinking that the Toledo skimps on luggage space, as the car comes with a 500 litre boot, more than enough for suitcases, shopping, or whatever your passengers might be carrying.

However, it’s the Ecomotive engine that really makes the Toledo a stand out taxi choice. With the 1.6 litre diesel model, the Toledo averages around 104g/km, putting at the lower end of the emissions spectrum and meaning you’ll only need to pay £20 annual road tax. Versatile, functional, and economical, the SEAT Toledo has everything you could need from a taxi.

Find more information on the car here.

Citroen Berlingo Multispace Diesel

Citroen Berlingo Multispace Taxi

CO2 (g/km): 115

MPG: 64.2

Road Tax: £30

Coming with 5 seats and spacious legroom as standard, the Berlingo has an advantage in its large storage capacity, with a 675 litre boot capacity. With a fold of the rear two seats, you’ll increase this to a 3000 litre space, easily allowing for passenger luggage. Don’t think that the Berlingo’s bulky looks bode for an awkward driving experience either, as this Citroen offering has a surprising agility, tackling city driving with ease.

If you’re thinking that the Berlingo must be a bit of a gas guzzler with all of this space, you’d be wrong. Boasting a CO2 rating of just 115g/km, the Berlingo lies at the lower end of the emissions spectrum, meaning you’ll only have to pay £30 annual road tax. Plus, with 64.2 MPG, if you’re looking for a big taxi that’s cheap to run, you might find your answer in this Citroen.

Find more information on the car here. 

Ford Mondeo Style 1.6 Diesel

Ford Mondeo Style Taxi

CO2 (g/km): 94

MPG: 78.5

Road Tax: £0

Ford’s reliability, affordability and “blank slate” nature has always meant that their vehicles have transferred well to the private hire and fleet car market. With the Ford Mondeo Style 1.6, you’ll find all the same features we’ve grown to expect from the Mondeo, alongside a refined focus on styling and of course, fuel economy. Coming with 5 doors, a streamlined almost Germanic exterior, and comfortable interior, Ford have shown that the Mondeo can bring a little luxury at affordable prices.

Of course, what really makes the Mondeo Style 1.6 Diesel a stand out option for a taxi is its fuel economy. With the Mondeo’s Econetic engine producing emissions of just 94g/km, you’ll pay £0 road tax saving you money from the off. You’ll need to refuel less frequently too, as the Ford Mondeo Style 1.6 diesel has an MPG of 78.5.

Find more information on the car here. 

Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 Ecoflex Diesel

Vauxhall Insignia Taxi

CO2 (g/km): 94

MPG: 76.3

Road Tax: £0

The insignia has been one of the most popular taxi and company car choices of recent years, and it’s not hard to see why. Combining affordability and drivability with crowd pleasing styling, the Insignia is a car built to be on its feet (or wheels) all day.

The Insignia comes with all the standard features of a larger hatchback, Vauxhall have also packed in a few extra perks that seem built specifically with the taxi driver in mind. One of these is stop/start technology, helping to save fuel depending on how you’re using the car. Alongside Vauxhall’s Ecoflex diesel engine, the Insignia only puts out 94g/km of Co2 emissions, meaning that you’ll pay £0 road tax. Alongside 140 BPH and 76.3 MPG, this is a taxi that manages to combine fuel economy with admirable power.

Find more information on the car here. 

All of the taxis listed above are available from The Taxi Centre, plus many more, so if you’d like any further information on any of these vehicles just get in touch. We’d also be happy to tell you about any other vehicles we have in stock, and even give you some advice on how to drive your taxi economically. We hope this guide has given you a good insight into just some of the many fuel economical taxis available.

Author: Tom

Title: A Guide to Driving Abroad

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Summary: When booking a holiday, it can be tempting to turn a simple jaunt abroad into a full on driving holiday. Taking or hiring a car on holiday can seem like a ticket to freedom; no more hassle getting taxis to and from the airport, no more getting stranded, and no more cramped tour buses.

Meta Title: A Guide to Driving Abroad | Bristol Street Motors

Meta Description: Check out the Bristol Street Motors guide to driving abroad in order to make your trip a little easier.

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Puerto de Alcala, Madrid

When booking a holiday, it can be tempting to turn a simple jaunt abroad into a full on driving holiday. Taking or hiring a car on holiday can seem like a ticket to freedom; no more hassle getting taxis to and from the airport, no more getting stranded, and no more cramped tour buses.

However, driving in a different country involves far more than simply remembering to stick on the right – or wrong –side of the road. However, with Bristol Street Motor’s driving abroad guide, we’ll give you a run through of all the essentials you need to know to keep safe when driving on holiday.

Essentials

Whether you’re a Monsieur or Madame, Herr or Frau, or Senor or Senorita, there are a few essential points to remember when driving abroad, wherever you are. A good word of advice is if you wouldn’t do it when driving at home, don’t do it abroad. It shouldn’t need to be stated, but drink driving, using mobile phones, and speeding won’t be tolerated, wherever you’re going to be. If you plan on driving abroad, make sure to check the national speed limits of the countries you’re planning to travel to; this might seem obvious, but it’s something many people simply forget to do.

Documents

Whatever country you’re driving in, it’s good practice to take a full set of identification, insurance, and proof of purchase documents. Chances are you won’t need to use all these, but in the eventuality you do and you don’t possess the document required, you’re likely to find yourself in a bit of a sticky situation. Whether you’re driving abroad in your own car or a hired car, you should always remember to take:

  • A full driving license (valid, not provisional)
  • Driving license counterpart
  • Original vehicle registration documentation (not a paper copy)
  • Car insurance documents – check you’re covered for driving abroad
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Passport
  • Letter of authorisation from vehicle owner (if using a borrowed or hired car)
  • License plate displaying country of origin (e.g. GB)

Depending on which country or countries you’re planning to drive through, a visa might also be necessary. If you’re driving through the EU, you’re unlikely to need this.

The documentation you’ll need is bound to change from country to country, so as always, you should check the specific documentation requirements of the locations you’ll be travelling to in order not to get caught out

Car Preparation

It’s not just yourself you should get prepared for driving abroad, but also your car. Create a checklist of how your car has been running in the past few months, and write down any points that may need improvement. Slight faults you may be able to cope with at home can appear accentuated when driving abroad in unfamiliar conditions, so it’s always recommended that you check your car in for a service before you travel with it. Also, make sure to keep on top of tyre pressures, oil and coolant levels, and tyre tread.

Make sure that you’ve got breakdown cover, and that this extends abroad; this can save you a significant amount of money in event of the worst happening. It’s a good idea to put a few items together in a kit you can simply store in your boot. A wheel puncture kit, first aid kit, torch, warning triangle, blanket and high visibility clothing can all be compactly stored away, so they’re there if the worst does happen. Preparing for breakdowns might seem pessimistic, but a little precaution is better than being stranded in an unfamiliar country.

Country Checklist

As well as the more universal guidelines, each country you travel to will have their own set of driving rules and driving habits. You may find that the driving styles in the countries you travel to differ significantly to those at home, and the British government suggests adopting a defensive driving style, wherever you are in the world. You should always check the full list of laws and requirements for the country you’re travelling to before driving there. As an introduction, we’ve put together some useful information for driving in some of the most common European Union countries Brits choose to drive abroad in.

France

The national motorway speed limit in France is 130kmph, or 80mph, changing to 110kmph in wet conditions.

All drivers, including foreign cars, must have at least one item of high visibility clothing, a breathalyser, and a warning triangle in the vehicle at all times. Speed camera detectors are now banned in France, and many speed cameras are no longer signposted, so be careful to drive within the limit at all times.

Spain

With a national motorway speed limit of 120kmph (74mph) in all conditions, Spain has one of the lowest speed limits in the EU.

All drivers must carry 2 warning triangles, replacement headlight bulbs, and reflective jackets for all drivers, and if you require glasses, a spare set of spectacles. Indicating is essential while overtaking on motorways, and it’s not uncommon for Spanish motorway police to hand out fines for forgetting to do so.

Germany

Germany is well known for its absence of a motorway speed limit. However, it’s not all fun on the Autobahn, as this only applies to around a fifth of Germany’s motorway network. For the other 4/5’s, a general limit of 80mph applies, although this can change regionally.

German law only requires drivers to have a warning triangle within the car, but it’s good practice to bring some of the items required by France and Spain, as they may prove useful in eventuality of accidents.

Italy

The motorway speed limits in Italy are 130kmph in the dry, and 110kmph in the wet, and all drivers are required to carry a warning triangle, replacement light bulbs and high visibility jackets within the car at all times.

Driving on the motorway in Italy is fairly similar to most EU countries. However, you should be wary when driving in cities, as many zones are permit only, and getting caught driving here can leave to a hefty fine and a wrist slapping from the Polizia.

Netherlands

The national motorway speed limit in the Netherlands is 130kmph, with only vehicles being able of 60kmph (37mph) being allowed on the motorway.

Motorists aren’t required by law to carry any essential equipment, but again, carrying warning triangles, high visibility clothing, and replacement bulbs is certainly a good idea. All fines are on the spot, and if your speed is judged to be a danger, it’s not unusual for your car to be confiscated.

The most important point to remember before driving abroad is to be prepared. If you forget important documents, don’t check your car is in full working order, and aren’t aware of the laws and standards of the country you’re travelling to, then you could be setting yourself up for a lot of stress. Driving in another country doesn’t have to be a hassle, and as long as you remember the points in our guide, your trip abroad should be memorable – in the right way. If you want to make your trip one to remember, why not treat yourself to a new car!

Author: Tom