Driving Abroad

The World Health Organization estimates that more than 300 U.S. citizens die each year because of road accidents abroad and thousands more are injured. The majority of injuries and fatalities on the roads in developing countries do not involve motor vehicle occupants, but pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists and non-motor vehicle occupants.

To be safe on the roads abroad, investigate local requirements for driver’s licenses before leaving home, and research information about road permits and auto insurance. The State Department warns travelers to learn the rules and laws of the road in other countries because they can vary significantly from those in the United States. Other countries may not permit right turns on red, as we do in most of the United States, and may impose much more severe criminal penalties for driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

Here are some other steps to take before you go:

  • Check travel sites to learn specifics about the country where you will be traveling.
  • Familiarize yourself with the signage in the country.
  • If you rent a car, make sure it’s automatic, if you do not know how to drive a manual transmission.
  • If you’re visiting a country where people drive on the left, you may want to drive with someone who can remind you to stay on the left side of the road.
  • Be aware that in rural areas of some countries, the roadways are crowded with pedestrians, bicyclists and wandering farm animals.
  • If you’re at all anxious about driving in a foreign country, do not rent a car and take taxis instead.

To learn more, visit the U.S. State Department Web site.

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