Broken-down Britons abroad may be fined

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Car Rental News - 22/08/2007


Survey results indicate car hire companies abroad are not providing adequate safety equiptment in rented cars.

A survey conducted by the AA shows that British tourists are at risk when driving rented cars in Mediterranean countries.

The information gathered by the large motoring organization suggests that drivers from the UK could face large fines and be left stranded if their hired cars break down abroad.

Over a third of car hire companies are letting their customers down, by failing to provide a number to call in case of a breakdown. Another half of the companies hiring out cars do not include the car's manual, leaving drivers without instructions of how to jack the car or fix basic problems.

The AA surveyed 57 car rental companies in Turkey, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy and found that the majority (more than 75 per cent) were not included emergency equipment to the level it is required by most European countries. In fact, most did not carry enough emergency equipment to meet their own local standards.

Eleven Greek companies were surveyed. None of them provided first-aid kits or warning triangles to be used in case of a breakdown. Both pieces of equipment are required by law. Five companies did not provide drivers with a number to call in case of a breakdown.

In Portugal, only six companies surveyed did not provide a breakdown number, however almost every company surveyed provided all the equipment necessary.

In the case of a breakdown, local police who discover a car lacking the required safety equipment can exact a fine on-the-spot or they can chose to take a 'deposit' on the maximum possible fine, to be held until the case goes to court.

A broken down car with no warning triangle or reflective jacket can lead to a fine of £408 in Portugal. In Italy, the fine for breaking down without setting up a warning triangle is £201, and £101 for not wearing a reflective jacket while standing beside the road at a breakdown.

Although the car rental companies have a responsibility to their customers to equip cars with the necessary materials, car rental customers should also be vigilant and check their cars for safety supplies before driving away.

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