It’s official – the summer holidays are finally here and families are taking to trains, planes and automobiles in droves to soak up the summer sun in far flung destinations.

Research by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, part of the world’s largest vehicle rental company, reveals that (30%) of people driving abroad this summer will not do any preparation before they get behind the wheel.

In addition, this will be the first time driving abroad for almost a quarter (24%) of those driving in a foreign country in the coming weeks.

When asked why they don’t research country specific traffic rules, nearly a third (28%) of respondents said they didn’t need to due to their previous experience, while 37% said that preparation wasn’t necessary because they were confident in their driving ability. Other reasons cited for not preparing include:

  • 21% believe they are very careful drivers
  • 17% said that driving abroad is much the same as driving in their own country
  • 12% said they use a sat nav and have all the latest technology

More than a quarter (27%) of respondents surveyed did not research the specific country rules when driving abroad.

Those that do prepare are not necessarily focusing on the driving laws or rules of the road and are as likely to pack their sunglasses as they are to plan their route in advance. When it comes to preparation, the survey revealed that:

  • 66% research how long the drive is likely to be
  • 58% put the destination into their sat nav or mobile device
  • 54% pack sunglasses
  • 52% plan the route in advance, carefully checking for rest stops
  • 52% check the rental car before they drive off
  • 51% make sure they have food and water in the car
  • 19% prepare a driving playlist

When asked about sources of anxiety or stress when driving abroad, almost half of respondents (45%) stated that driving on the other side of the road was their biggest concern.

More than a third (38%) found driving an unfamiliar route for the first time stressful, while one in four said that they would be nervous about driving a car that they had never driven before.

One in ten found themselves becoming stressed when they didn’t know how long the journey was going to take.

The need for greater preparation is evident by the fact that one in seven (14%) of those surveyed, who had driven abroad before had experienced a ‘prang’ or ‘mishap’ during the trip.

Furthermore, a quarter of those had been penalised while driving in another country. Interestingly one in 10 had been penalised for a road traffic offence they had committed without being aware they had broken the rules of the road.

Types of penalties received by Irish holidaymakers while driving abroad include:

  • Speeding (12%)
  • Parking ticket (9%)
  • Not paying toll charges (3%)

“Our survey shows that just over half (52%) of those renting a car check the vehicle before they drive off. For families and holidaymakers renting a car abroad this summer, becoming familiar with the car’s controls and operating functions is absolutely essential as makes and models can differ,” said George O’Connor, managing director, Enterprise Rent-A-Car Ireland. “Enterprise representatives are trained to walk customers around the car and talk them through any unfamiliar driving functions when they are picking up their car.”

“We encourage all drivers heading abroad to prevent any mishaps that could ruin a holiday by planning their route in advance and to brush up on the local rules of the road. Our research reveals that only 28% check the car rental website to get tips before setting off. I’d advise everyone to take a few minutes to go online to read up on the rules of the road for the country they will be driving in,” George O’Connor concluded.

The research forms part of a pan-European study from Enterprise Rent-A-Car of more than 4,500 drivers in the UK, Ireland, Spain, Germany and France who plan to drive abroad this summer.