Driving safely in the United States is a completely different matter from driving in America. There are specific rules and customs in the United States, that may not be rules or customs in other areas.

In some cases, following the rules and customs you are aware of may even put you at a higher risk for getting involved in an accident. These things go beyond the lanes simply being flipped.

The first thing you should do if you know that you need to drive abroad on your upcoming vacation is get an international driving permit or IDP. This will allow you to legally drive in various places around the world.

As you travel, you should keep both your international driving permit and your United States Driver’s License on you at all times. Due to the fact that other countries have different driving rules, you may accidentally break one and get pulled over.

You will be in very big trouble if you do not have these pieces of legal documentation. However, it would also be a very good idea to get a copy of the driving laws of the country or countries you will be driving through.

This will help you know what to expect. These rules can often be obtained from the foreign country’s embassy that is located in the United States, foreign government tourism offices, and from rental car companies in the foreign country.

It will be very important of you to at least know whether or not the country has a different minimum or maximum driving age. You may not fit in the categories of a legal driver in another county.

Another thing that you may not be aware of is that some countries require special permits to be purchased to pass by the toll booths. Instead of collecting a toll from everyone, the toll booth will only collect a fine from those who have failed to purchase a permit.

You will want to either be prepared to pay these fines or purchase a permit in advance. You do not want to be caught without cash and without any method of payment or it will effectively hinder your trip.

One rule that does not change is the law that states you should always be wearing your seat belt. However, different fines or punishments for failing to buckle up are applied in various countries.

Some countries also like you honk you horn before you turn a sharp corner in case someone cannot fully see you coming around the corner. They may also want you to flash your lights before you pass a car that is a head of you.

These things let other people and cars know where you are and where you will be going. In turn, these things can prevent accidents, but they may confuse you if you are unaware of them.

Of course, when you rent a car, you will also want to make sure you have liability insurance. You are a foreigner in a strange land, driving to strange rules.

Your chances of becoming involved in an accident are much higher than they usually are. Without liability insurance, you may find yourself paying for a car you cannot afford.

Be aware as well that some countries drive on the left side of the road instead of the right. If there are too many new rules in the country you are traveling in you may want to try practicing them in a residential area.

When you are comfortable with the rules, you can take on heavy traffic. It will also help if you know which route you would like to travel.

It can be difficult to pay attention to new driving rules while you are trying to look at a map and drive. A navigator can be very helpful in this case.

Make sure your map is a detailed, correct, and updated version. Try to pick a route before you leave as well.

No matter how benevolent you are, you should never pick up hitchhikers or strangers. These people can be very dangerous sometimes and you do not want to put your safety at risk.

Another thing that can enhance your safety is being aware of your surroundings when you climb out or into the car. Be sure that you park in well lit areas so that you will not become susceptible to criminals.

It is very important to follow the rules of the country that you are in when you drive. Take as many safety precautions as you can.

Tom Selwick is a public safety representative for 25 years and has authored hundreds of articles relating to public safety and barricades. He has worked in public safety for years promoting safe transportation practices.

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Tom Selwick