SEAT Leon Italian PoliceSix million Brits will be, once past Calais, driving abroad to Europe this summer – but the RAC has discovered almost two in three of them don’t know the three-digit number to dial in an emergency.

Knowledge of the correct number – 112 – is ‘worryingly’ low, which could lead to difficulties in an accident.

RAC European breakdown operations manager David Huggon said: “We all recognise 999 as the main emergency phone number in the UK, but it appears that once we’ve left the country we leave our knowledge of who to ring in an emergency behind too.”

10% of motorists say they would dial 111 in an emergency when in Europe: that’s the UK NHS non-emergency line.

6% say they would dial 911, the emergency number in the United States and Canada, while 5% would call 101, the UK non-emergency police line.

Indeed, it’s the introduction of 101 and 111 phone numbers in the UK that might be why motorists are getting confused, reckons Huggon.

112 for the EU

Simply try to remember 112 is Huggon’s advice. “The 112 number works right across the EU, including the UK.

“But it doesn’t get a lot of promotion – certainly not in Britain, where we have 999 anyway, but not a great deal in continental Europe either, although electronic motorway signage in some countries including France is used to remind drivers.”

But won’t they speak a foreign language? Not at all. “Drivers need not be concerned about language barriers either, as in many cases dialling 112 will put you through to an English-speaking call handler while abroad.”

Emergency numbers – the RAC guide

Phone number What it’s for Where it works
112 Emergency assistance line All of the European Union
999 Emergency assistance line United Kingdom
911 Emergency assistance line All of North America
101 Police non-emergency assistance line United Kingdom
111 NHS non-emergency assistance line England and Scotland, and Wales from October 2015

MORE on MR

Calais chaos: what to do if you’re travelling to France

Operation Stack truckers given free water by council

The best travel apps for your summer holidays