A car rental in Ireland is a great way to see the countryside, but there are some drastic differences that any North American traveler should be aware of before getting behind the wheel. Here are some tips for driving in Dublin that you may find helpful on your next Irish vacation.
Drivers should plan on taking some time to get used to the new driving environment. Remember that most likely, you have never driven on the left hand side, and it may take a little while to get used to it. Practice, even just around the block if you need to, it will be worth it. This goes double for people who are renting manual transmission cars. You are going to want to be familiar with the road signs in Ireland, so a great idea is to bring a driving guide to read on the flight over.
Most people choose to rent a vehicle with the CDW and theft included. This is because most credit cards do not offer insurance in Ireland, due to the high rate of accidents. If you purchase the CDW, ask about the deductible amounts. It may be worth buying extra insurance to cover that amount if it is too high. In the event that you have one of the cards that will cover you, there are a couple things you should do. Call your credit card company, tell them exactly what you intend on doing. Tell them who will be driving, where you are going, how many passengers, the type of car you are renting, etc. Print out a copy of the credit card's offered coverage where it clearly states that the coverage is offered in Ireland. You will need to have this with you when you pick up the car.
If you are picking up a car rental in Dublin, or any major airport, be sure to check if there are any additional car rental fees for the pick up location.
Make sure to have a valid driver's license and the vehicle rental contract with you when driving.
Seatbelts are mandatory for all persons in the vehicle.
Do not drink and drive. It is dangerous to yourself and others. Ireland has strict drinking and driving laws that will not be bent for anyone. If you are caught driving over the legal limit (.08) your car will be towed and you will be booked and charged a hefty fine. If you are involved in an accident while drinking, all your insurance becomes null and void, and you are financially responsible for all damage caused. This is a no brainer. Ireland has plenty of taxis and public transportation if you need to get home, so take advantage of them.
Cell phones are not permitted while driving anywhere in Ireland. If a phone is in your pocket and turned on, it's illegal to drive with it. This rule also applies to any other radio devices, such as a CB, or two-way radio system. Passengers are allowed to use these devices while the car is in motion, just not the driver.
Driving in Ireland is a great way to see the country at your own pace. You can find some of the countries hidden gems just by striking up a conversation with locals, and asking around. Remember, a responsible driver is the best driver!