Travel to foreign countries is a great way to learn about the world and experience other cultures, but all travelers need to take precautions and plan ahead. Many visitors take for granted that the basic routines they are used to will be the same no matter where they go, but this is often not the case. Foreign travel presents the chance of encountering legal situations, diseases, and other other threatening differences that can only be prepared for with research.
Whether you intend to drive in the destination country or not, it is worthwhile to become familiar with laws that cover automobile traffic there. Drivers and passengers are not the only ones that get injured in auto accidents. Bystanders who lack familiarity with the rules of the road are also at risk. Plan for safety on your next trip abroad by investigating the following areas of concern.
Importance of Coverage
The domestic insurance policy is unlikely to transfer to foreign countries, no matter how much coverage you have. It sometimes does transfer with neighboring countries, and the best way to find out is by asking your agent. In all other cases, it will be necessary to purchase coverage that is specific to the destination.
Rental cars are packaged with the minimum coverage requirement for the country in most cases. Learn the minimum and check on this for safety. It is typically a good idea to have more than the minimum coverage, especially if the minimum does not cover injuries.
Not having the proper license, or having it in a format that cannot be understood by police who speak a different language, is a recipe for disaster. Most countries will accept a foreign driver’s license for stays under a week, but it is still a good idea to get an international driving permit (IDP). Remember that compliance with local laws is a requirement, and ignorance of the law is not an acceptable excuse in any country.
Rules of the Road
You learned the traffic rules for driving at home explicitly, but over the years they have become second nature. Other countries have different rules, and this means explicitly learning rules all over again. Right on red, for instance, may not be safe or legal in some countries, and traffic signs will almost certainly look different.
Safe Driving with GPS
Since more attention will be needed to obey those foreign traffic rules, it is a good idea to remove one of the major sources of road stress. A GPS navigator will help in minimizing time on the road and let you focus on safe driving instead of translating signs and watching for landmarks. It will be especially useful for travel in large cities.
Become Familiar with Technology
The first task after acquiring a car and insurance is to become familiar with the car. The turn signals, headlights, and other standard features of foreign automobiles are often in different positions. As well, some countries drive on the left side of the road, which can be confusing for beginners. A good start is to find a less populated area for the first practice run.
Foreign travel is exciting, and it can also be dangerous for those who take the challenge of overcoming differences lightly. Extra precautions and advance research will make for a safer trip and prevent run-ins with foreign law enforcement. Take the time to understand rules and requirements early, so your trip can be more focused on enjoying the sights.
Andrew Greene is a freelance writer and blogs for accidentclaims.org where you can get help on filing accident claims.