Foreign Roads

Exploring foreign roads fully changes your perspective. It’s one of the best ways to expand your understanding of the different ways things we do every day can be done. The problem is navigating the things that are not the same as at home.

Every country does it differently:

What side of the road am I supposed to be on? What condition do they keep their roads in?

I bet you didn’t even thing to ask if the other drivers passed a recognized driving license test. Some countries let you buy your license which can be a surprise if you come from one that requires a test. It’s important to look into what other documents you need by law.

It’s a good idea to review the more obvious laws of the country they are driving in.

Next you have to consider what problems may affect the environment, anything from strong weather to natural disasters. Some roads in some countries flood routinely and locals hardly think to mention it.

It’s best to check and recheck the route of the journey beforehand. It’s a good idea to use a GPS it often updates with weather conditions accidents and the like. Look out too for GPS updates. It’s important that your system reacts to changes in speed limit.

If you rent a car check out everything including the headlights, tire tread, brakes, oil, water and so on. Take note of any scratches and dents you might see.

Some emergency equipment will be highly useful – everything from jump leads, the spare tire, a hazard triangle (again depending on the country), tow rope and extinguisher as well as the all-important first aid kit. In a number of countries, you can be arrested for not having the right equipment.

It’s a good idea not to speed, especially if the roads are unreliable. It’s never advisable to drive in a tired state.

Another easy to overlook item is that not all traffic police chase you in cars, some stand at the side of the road waving at you to stop. Also, not all of them are reliable – some may place a fake ticket on you-so it’s best to check it.

Look at getting fully comprehensive insurance – it may be the costlier choice, but it will be worth it.

It may be best to stay with the rest of the traffic as other drivers tend to know what they are doing. It may be wise to make a point to review what local road signs look like and mean before you go.

It should come as little surprise that most road accidents occur in countries with the lowest incomes, so road safety is important. In conjunction with the Red Cross and Red Crescent there are a number of projects out there to reduce the deaths in developing countries, whether by education, legislating or equipment.

One such enterprise is the 7% Campaign which finances motorcycle helmets for children from Thailand; only 7% of Thai motorcyclists currently wear helmets. This project is also supported by Save The Children and works with the public authorities of Thailand.

If your business involves logistics, it’s especially hard to drive a truck on more treacherous roads. It’s a good idea to become a member of the International Road Federation, a not-for-profit company which has been in operation since 1948. They provide information on roads around the world and advocate best practices. They also run a series of webinars.

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