Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tip of the Day: If You Drive Abroad, Be Cautious, Detail-Oriented and Know the Trouble You Can Get In

Unless you have LOTS of experience in driving abroad, particularly in a given country or region, my first suggestion is: Don't Rent a Car!

First of all, I'm not a spoil-sport. I'm a realist, who knows that assumptions generally fail.

When we rent a car abroad it is our intention to NOT not get into an "accident," hit another car or injure or kill someone.

Yet, we fail to consider the fact that we are in a foreign country where social mores, local laws, language, traffic signs and everything else are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT, including the lack of equity at the hands of local police, particularly if they happen to represent a developing nation where almost anything is negotiable at the right price.

Also, please don't forget one unwritten rule in international law: The foreigner is almost always at fault, particularly in developing countries.

Now the details:

1. Always obtain comprehensive coverage with a low deductible;

2. Even if you're able to drive on your license back home or use an International Driving Permit (IDP), don't rent a car in a foreign country unless you understand ALL traffic laws, as ignorance of the law rarely serves you well;

3. Inspect the vehicle you rent in great detail for damage and take a mobile phone photo of anything you might be charged for;

4.  If the country you are renting a car in drives on the "left," and you have never driven in "left-hand drive is my suggestion that you NOT drive in the country, given the risk of an accident that you can be charged with; and

5. Before renting a car at your foreign destination, seek out advice from your embassy or consulate on the possible legal repercussions if you are in an accident, damage another vehicle or injure or kill someone. Such information could very well dissuade you from driving a rental.

If you are planning to drive in a foreign country, please contact the Association for International Safe Road Travel, as ASIRT sells excellent country reports on countries you may wish to drive in: