Tips for safe

driving in Europe

Honda Civic, 2023, touring
Honda Civic, 2023, front

HOLIDAYMAKERS are ditching the airport in favour of their car this summer, choosing long-distance drives to countries in Europe over flight delays and lost luggage.

France is the most popular driving holiday destination, according to research by Honda, followed by Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Belgium.

It takes just 35 minutes to travel through the Channel Tunnel, transporting drivers from the UK to Northern France.

From there, you can drive to the location of your choice - with the correct documents.

France tops the list, making it the most popular destination for drivers from the UK. It takes just six hours and 48 minutes to drive from Calais to Central France, making it the shortest journey on the list. If you fancy seeing the French capital, it takes just under 3 hours and 30 minutes to get to Paris.

Portugal offers the longest drive, taking 18 hours and 26 minutes to reach from the Channel Tunnel.

With the weather on the Continent often hotter than in Britain, Honda says that bright sunshine and high temperatures pose a challenge when driving, and with schools on holiday and more people on the road, drivers also need to navigate busier traffic during the day.

Mr Mark Wilkins, consultant ophthalmic surgeon at OCL Vision, suggests that drivers should wear sunglasses when driving in bright conditions.

He says: "[They] should reduce intensity of visible light so that the wearer feels comfortable. They should have a polarising filter to deal with glare from horizontal surfaces such as roads, and also block UV light which is harmful to the eyes.

"[Sunglasses] should not be prone to breaking or scratching. If they are too small, they will reduce the field of vision and allow light in from the sides. If they are too dark or significantly alter colour perception, this could [also] be a risk when driving, as it affects how you see potential hazards."

Dr Runa Ali, consultant physician in respiratory medicine and allergy at King Edward VII's Hospital in London, warns that hay fever symptoms can impair concentration and vision, which can in turn compromise driving performance and safety.

She advises:"Keep your car window closed and use air conditioning to minimise pollen exposure inside the vehicle.

"Use tissues or handkerchiefs to manage sneezing and any nasal symptoms. It is best to avoid using sprays or strong scents in the car as this may trigger symptoms.

"Take your prescribed or over the counter hay fever medications, such as antihistamines, as recommended by your doctor or pharmacist. It's important to ensure that these medications do not cause drowsiness, as this could impair your driving ability. Avoid drowsy antihistamines, such as chlorpheniramine (Piriton).

"If you experience severe hay fever symptoms while driving, pull over in a safe place until you feel comfortable to continue driving."

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy at the AA, said: "Taking regular breaks is a simple way to keep safe when driving long distances this summer. Taking a ten-minute break every couple of hours at a service area, or even venturing into towns and villages to seek a coffee and a chance to stretch your legs, will help keep your mind on the task.

"However, if you do feel sleepy the only way to beat it is to sleep, so find a safe place to stop take a short nap."

Rebecca Adamson, head of automobile at Honda UK, added: "Driving in the summer can pose unique challenges, which is why it is important to be prepared and take steps to make your journey safer. The experts that we consulted have shed light on some important considerations, to help you to prepare and pack your car with everything that you might need - from antihistamines, to sunglasses, to a simple cup of coffee."


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