When it comes to operating a vehicle in America, it’s almost second nature for most people. However, when you venture outside the familiarity and regulations of the United States, you can be in for a rude awakening as it relates to driving. To keep you safe, follow the 10 tips listed below when driving in a foreign land:
1.) Know Not All Drivers Are As Regulated as Here in the States
Getting your driver’s license here in the states is a right of passage. While the regulations might vary slightly from state to state, no matter where you reside in America, there are some requirements demanded of you in exchange for the privilege of operating an automobile. This isn’t always the case in other parts of the world, though. For example, in Central Asia’s Kyrgyzstan, locals simply buy their driver’s licenses. What this means in a practical sense is that you will likely be sharing the road with people who have not been trained in driving. So, be on the lookout and practice your defensive driving skills.
2.) Know The Rules of the Land
Speaking of rules and regulations, it’s important for you to know the laws of the land where you plan on visiting. These rules will likely mean driving on the opposite side of the road than you are used to as well as other regulations that change from country to country. Study this helpful booklet on International Road Safety, provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to get you headed in the right direction.
3.) Know You Might Need a Specialty Permit
It’s a good idea to get an International Driving Permit that will offer you another measure of protection when driving in foreign countries. This license will allow you to rent a car in another country as well as give you additional documentation to provide should someone question your right to operate a vehicle. In addition, it is only $20 to buy this, so why not? You can purchase an International Driving Permit from either the National Auto Club or AAA, learn more here.
4.) Know Roads Aren’t Always What They Are Here
As Americans, we often complain if a road has a few rough spots or some potholes. That is nothing compared to the types of conditions you will likely encounter when driving in a foreign land. As a matter of fact, what you will be driving on in some countries wouldn’t even be considered a road here in the states, more like a path. In addition, you might have to deal with wildlife and extensive weather conditions.
5.) Know You Must Ensure Your Rental is Safe And in Good Operating Condition
You will likely have to rent a car to drive. Before leaving the rental company, make sure everything on the car works (headlights, wipers, etc.), it has adequate oil, and it isn’t beaten to death. If there are dents and scratches present, be sure to make note of them so you don’t get blamed. Also, make sure you have emergency gear with you when driving an unfamiliar car, just in case. Items like a spare tire, a tow rope, and a pair of jumper cables are a good idea to have on hand.
6.) Know You Have to Keep Your Head
Road rage, unfortunately, isn’t something you leave behind when leaving America. Just as rush hour, horns blaring and chaos all around can cause immense stress, leading to road rage here in the states, it can also cause minor problems to escalate when vacationing overseas. Make sure you keep your head about yourself in these situations. Take long breaths and stay calm. Don’t allow a stressful situation to become deadly, simply due to road rage.
7.) Know Their Cops Aren’t Like Ours
Another element you need to know about driving in a foreign country is the fact that other countries’ traffic cops can be infuriating to deal with and corrupt. In some lands, they simply stand at the side of the road and wave their baton at you, not even bothering to pull you over. They will expect you to pay an immediate cash fine, even if you broke no law. This is why it’s so important for you to know the rules and regulations of the roadway where you are visiting. You need to know if you actually broke a law or if you are dealing with a corrupt cop.
8.) Know You Should Avoid Driving at Night
Just as in the states, there are sometimes of the day in which it’s more dangerous than others to hit the roadways when overseas. Therefore, avoid driving during these times. In general, it’s a good idea to avoid night driving.
9.) Know You Must be Able to Navigate
Don’t rely on technology to get you from point A to point B when out of the United States. Bring along an old-school map so you can find your way to your destination, especially if your mobile phone and apps aren’t working.
10.) Know You Must Protect Yourself
Driving isn’t the only danger you have to deal with when operating a vehicle in a foreign land. You also need to be aware of the risks of a robbery or a carjacking occurring. Ask trusted locals to advise you on areas to avoid and listen to them.
Keep these 10 tips in mind as you drive in a foreign country. These tips are brought to you by AirEvac International.
International Road Safety: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/infographic-road-safety
International license information: https://www.esurance.com/info/car/before-driving-abroad