Overseas drivers given hour warning

Holidaymakers planning on taking their car over to Europe or preparing a fly-drive getaway have been warned to take extra care in the first few moments of getting behind the wheel in a foreign land.

Research by the Foreign Office revealed Britons driving abroad are at their most vulnerable about an hour into an overseas car journey - when their increased alertness at being on strange roads may start to wane.

Professor Geoff Beattie, from Manchester University, who produced the research for the Foreign Office, gave drivers heading overseas a "60-minute warning" to consider the problems they might face when on foreign roads.

As well as driving on the wrong side of the road and unfamiliarity with the rented vehicle, driver fatigue also plays a part and has been shown to peak at the 60-minute point, Prof Beattie said.

He added: "Our brains need time to adjust to a number of factors for even routine tasks such as driving, so this research should be food for thought for anyone planning to drive abroad, and especially those planning to ride mopeds or motorbikes which have an even greater risk of accident."

The findings come as Foreign Office research reveals that a quarter of young, independent travellers admit to driving or being the passenger of a moped or quad bike when abroad without first checking if their insurance policy covers them.

Jess Prasad, manager of the Foreign Office's Know Before You Go campaign, said: "With tourists around three times more likely to be involved in road accidents than locals, it's vital that anyone intending to drive abroad researches local driving laws and conditions and ensures their travel insurance covers them."

Copyright © Press Association 2010