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10 Safety Tips for Driving in a Foreign Country

Driving in a foreign country can be confusing.

Driving in a foreign country can be confusing.

By Danny Kaine

Traveling abroad is without a doubt an adventure, but driving abroad is a whole other story. When you decide to get behind the wheel in a foreign country, you not only get to experience sites, you also get to experience foreign traffic laws (or lack thereof). When preparing to travel most people think about getting their vaccines and packing their favorite swimming attire, but few consider the possibility that they might be involved in a vehicle accident.

The statistics are staggering. In 2015, it was estimated that 1.3 million people were killed, and a further 40 – 50 million people were injured in motor vehicle accidents around the world. Approximately 85% of these casualty statistics occurred in low or middle-income countries, and approx. 25,000 of these deaths are among tourists. Almost half of all medical evacuations back to the United States are the result of a vehicle accident, and a medical evacuation can cost upward of $100,000 if you do not have adequate travel insurance.

Are you thinking about driving in a foreign country? If so, keep in mind that road conditions, driving laws, pedestrian laws, and other ‘driving norms’ that we are familiar with, can be very different from your country. Poor road maintenance, lack of road signs, and insurance coverage (or lack of on the other parties side) are just some of the things you should consider. Moreover, remember to buckle up no matter where you are.

Researching the driving laws of the country you are visiting is advised before you go, and especially before you decided to get behind the wheel. Here are ten safety tips you should follow to reduce your chances drastically of being in an accident, or if you are, to help you be better prepared.

1. Carry an International Drivers Permit with you. A quick Google search will direct you where to purchase this. Also, consider buying international drivers insurance.

2. Always buy liability insurance and deductible insurance. There is a good chance that if you are involved in an accident when abroad, it will become your fault, and without the insurance, you will be out a lot of money.

3. Know local traffic laws before you get behind the wheel.

4. ALWAYS wear your seatbelt and make sure your passengers are wearing theirs too. If you are traveling with children, always put them in a suitable car seat.

5. Where possible, avoid driving or riding in a vehicle, in a developing country at night.

6. If you are riding a motorcycle, ALWAYS wear a helmet, even if it is not the law to do so.

7. Familiarize yourself with what roadside assistance is available if any. If not, have a plan. Don’t get stuck on the side of the road.

8. Always carry a road map, don’t rely on technology. Always carry local emergency telephone numbers too.

9. DON’T drink and drive, even if it is not against the law in the country you are visiting!

10. Be aware of these issues as a pedestrian, so you are not injured, or worse when doing something as simple as crossing the street.

As well as safety tips for driving, please be aware of the security issues that may affect you, including carjacking and robbery. Consider this, you are driving, it is getting dark, you turn a corner and on the road you see a woman laying motionless. Do you stop to help? There is no right or wrong answer to this but consider the fact it might be a trap, designed to stop you in your tracks and lure you out of your vehicle. Suddenly, armed men appear from the ditch, take your money, valuables, and car, and leave you in the middle of nowhere.

Think it will never happen to you? Think again. It happens almost daily, including in developed countries. Be aware. Stay safe.

Danny is a true nomad and founder of NomadSOS. Originally from the UK, he has visited 36 different countries. He is a former soldier, security advisor and business traveler with 20-years of international experience, including operating in Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflict and post-conflict regions around the world.

Do you have any foreign country experiences to share? Comment below so we can Go! See! Learn!

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Michelle Rae

Michelle Rae

Michelle Rae is the creator of The Traveling Vixen, which captures her adventures around the world. Her passion is to inspire others to grow by experiencing and learning new things in the world.