The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has started a new road safety campaign. This campaign, with the help of Carrentals.co.uk, is being launched in order to help Brits drive safely while travelling abroad this Easter holiday. The campaign was established in response to FCO workers located overseas. These FCO members are reporting a very high amount of road accidents affecting British tourists in popular destinations such as Spain, Thailand and Australia.
The FCO wants Brits to remember that driving standards, conditions and laws tend to vary widely by countries. This puts Brits at risk when they travel abroad on holiday. For example, in Thailand there were some 68,582 road incidents in 2011. This resulted in the death of 9,205 Thai residents and tourists. To put this in perspective, there were only 1,901 people killed in road accidents in the UK during all of 2011. The road safety campaign goes on to show that, after death from natural causes, road accidents are the most common cause of death for all British nationals visiting Thailand. FCO staff in Thailand say that most of these accidents involve motorcycles and scooters.
Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand, Mark Kent, said that Brits driving in Thailand have to remember that driving customs and road laws there are very different than in the UK. Traffic accidents can have a very profound effect on both the people who are involved in the accident itself and the families of the people involved. Accidents do happen, and not all of these tragedies can be avoided. However, the result could be much different. Many lives could be saved if people would simply drive more safely overseas than what they would normally drive at home.
Kent added that he has visited hospitals and heard from doctors all over Thailand. These doctors all say the same thing. The road deaths could have been avoided if people visiting Thailand followed the laws and took the appropriate precautions. For example, people have to remember to wear their safety helmets when they drive a motorcycle.
As part of the campaign, the FCO wants drivers to keep the following in mind:
- France – Every driver must have a breathalyser in their vehicle.
- Scandinavia – It’s against the law to drive without headlights on, even during the day
- Spain – If you wear corrective lenses, you have to have an extra pair when driving. Also, in some cities, a car has to be parked on different sides of the road depending on the day of the week.
- Germany – It’s against the law to drive without winter tyres during specific times of the year.
- Belarus – It’s against the law to drive a car that is dirty.
- Serbia – Drivers must carry a 3 metre rope and tow bar.
- Russia – It’s completely forbidden by law to pick up hitchhikers.
The FCO has launched a new online tool that will help people access specific road safety information like the tips provided above. This tool can be accessed at www.fcowidget.com. For daily travel updates, be sure to follow the FCO on Facebook or Twitter.
The FCO and Carrentals.co.uk have worked together in the past to conduct a survey about Brits who fail to research highway laws in the country they are traveling to. The survey concluded that over 40% of all British holidaymakers who drive abroad fail to do this research. Despite this, nearly 63% of all Brits believed that they did not need to do the research because they were confident that they knew the legal limits and penalties of these countries.
The managing director of Carrentals.co.uk, Gareth Robinson, said, “We were shocked with some of the findings, notably that people don’t familiarise themselves with the relevant highway code of a different country. Driving rules and regulations vary in every country and it is important people are aware of these changes and how they differ to the UK laws they are used to. We urge our customers to carry the correct equipment and research relevant information to avoid costly and dangerous mistakes.”