While driving is becoming more and more homogenized with the piteously low number of people who are able to drive a manual transmission (and don’t even get me started on crank-wound-cars) there are things which people should always be aware of if they are going to be driving in a country other than the United States. Follow these following seven tips for driving in another country and your luck (and traffic signals) should be coming up all green.
Driving in Foreign Countries: Get Your IDP: One of the first things people who will be in a foreign country for a prolonged period of time should do is get an International Driving Permit (IDP). According to the aaa.com website, an IDP is something everyone “…traveling overseas (should) carry an International Driving Permit …Should you need to communicate with foreign authorities, this recognizable form of identification can help you get on your way more quickly. Valid in over 150 countries, the permit contains your name, photo and driver information translated into ten languages.” An IDP can be obtained from most AAA offices or even online. Just make sure you’re going from a reputable source before you apply for an IDP. The current fee for an IDP is $15 and you shouldn’t apply for an IDP any more than six months in advance of your travel dates.
Driving in Foreign Countries: Know the Local Rules: According to about.com there are also several, practical things drivers in foreign countries can do. One of the most obvious of these is to know the local rules of the road. “As many countries have different driving rules, obtain a copy of the foreign country’s rules before you begin driving in that country. Information may be available from the foreign embassy in the United States, foreign government tourism offices or from a car rental company in the foreign country.”
Driving in Foreign Countries: Know the Age: Another thing you’ll want to do before you hit the road in a foreign country is to know the local age requirements. Many countries have different minimum ages; some even have a maximum age; so senior citizens be wary too.
Driving in Foreign Countries: Permits: Some countries require road permits to use divided highways. Never get on to a road that you’re not sure you should be on or you could end up confused and make wrong turns.
Driving in Foreign Countries: Buckle Up: It’s probably McGruff the Crime Dog’s fault but foreign countries take their seat belt laws very seriously. You’d hate to end up in the clink on your vacation just for not buckling your seat belt.
Driving in Foreign Countries: Insurance: You’d think this would be obvious but if you’re driving in a foreign country, make sure you’ve got some insurance! Don’t just assume that Geico lizard will cover you in a foreign country; make sure you’ve got local coverage.
Driving in Foreign Countries: Road Side: Another one that you’d think would be a given is that opposite side of the road thing. Make sure you’re always on the correct side of the road; even if that’s not necessarily the “right” side of the road.
Of course there are other prudent steps for foreign drivers in foreign countries to take heed of. Know your route, get the most updated map or GPS device (with coverage for where you’ll be headed), always be wary of entering your vehicle in strange neighborhoods and never pick up hitchhikers. While these rules do sound a little stringent, the foreigner is exactly the type of person to have something fantastical happen to them. Just use your head and follow these rules and enjoy the open road!