With just days to go until Euro 2016 kicks off, the mass exodus of happy Irish football fans has begun in earnest – and it appears that most supporters are taking to the autoroutes of France to support the boys in green.

Research carried out by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, part of Enterprise Holdings – the world’s largest car rental company – found that over 1 in 5 (21%) Irish holidaymakers who plan to drive abroad this summer are heading to France. In fact, almost a quarter (23%) of Irish people travelling to France this summer are going for the sole reason of supporting Ireland in Euro 2016.

Planes, trains… and automobiles

The Enterprise Rent-A-Car survey also revealed that almost three quarters (72%) of survey respondents who are planning to travel abroad this summer are planning to rent a car while 28% of those surveyed are planning to go by ferry and bring their own vehicle.

For those travelling to Euro 2016:

  • 47% will rent a car
  • 33% will bring their own vehicle
  • 33% will be flying to France
  • 19% will be taking the ferry to France
  • 3% are bringing their own camper van
  • 7% will be taking the train / Eurostar
  • 3% will rent a camper van

Who’s taking the car?

64% of those driving abroad will be sharing the driving with their companions. Of this group, females (71%) are more likely to share the driving whilst abroad than males (57%) while 36% of those will not be sharing the driving.

For a quarter of those surveyed, it will be their first ever time driving abroad. Of the 76% who have driven abroad before, the proportion of males (85%) is higher than females (68%).

Two in five (41%) of those surveyed who are specifically planning to follow the Irish team in France are aged 25 to 34 years of age.

In case of an accident in France – know your numbers

Irish drivers are aware of basic rules for driving in France but the Enterprise research uncovered some confusion about what to do in an emergency. Over three-quarters of those surveyed who plan to drive in France this summer do not know the number of the emergency services, while almost half (42%) incorrectly think it is 101 as opposed to the correct number which is 112 – the pan-European emergency services number.

Furthermore, 38% are unaware that it is illegal to speak on a hands-free kit while driving, and a further 39% do not know that it is illegal to drive while wearing headphones.

Other ways in which Irish football fans may fall foul of French driving rules include:

  • 55% are not aware that it is illegal to honk the car horn in a French city except in case of an imminent collision
  • 57% do not know that you are required by law to carry an unused breathalyser in the vehicle at all times
  • 18% do not know that you are required by law to carry a high-visibility vest in the vehicle

Anyone ignoring these rules could find themselves facing on-the-spot fines.

Do your homework

For football fans there’s nothing as exciting as getting ready for a big tournament and we all hope this is going to be a summer to remember,” says George O’Connor, managing director, Enterprise Rent-A-Car Ireland.

“Our survey shows that Euro 2016 will mark the first time many Irish supporters will be driving abroad, and I would urge anyone heading to France to do their homework and be prepared before hitting the autoroutes. This includes filling up the tank at the earliest opportunity – with fuel shortages reported throughout the country, I urge motorists to plan ahead and fuel up before setting off.”

“Anyone renting a car will have peace of mind that the local rental company provides necessary equipment such as a safety triangle and high-vis vest,” Mr O’Connor continued. “However, if you are taking your own car then you must ensure you are fully equipped to the legal requirement. Drive safely, and here’s to a brilliant Euro 2016!”

Six French driving tips from Enterprise Rent-A-Car

  1. Keep an eye on your speedometer – be aware of speed limits, particularly in urban and built up areas, and stick to them.
  2. Look out for ‘priorité à droit’ – where you see this sign (an X) you must give way to traffic coming from the right, even if you are on the main road.
  3. Beware – using the speed camera detector on your sat-nav is against the law
  4. Do not use your horn in built-up areas.
  5. And of course, never drink and drive – the drink-drive limit in France is one of the lowest in Europe
  6. Fill up the tank – due to the recent fuel shortage in France caused by strikes at refineries and depots, drivers should avail of filling up at the earliest opportunity