Summer is just around the corner, which means it’s just about vacation season! Time to pack your things, explore the world and enjoy some much-needed time away from the office. Just be certain that you stay safe if you’re planning to take a road trip abroad. Here’s how.
Each year, nearly 50 million people are injured in motor vehicle crashes worldwide – many of them tourists.
If you think about it, it makes sense since being on vacation often means you’re driving in unfamiliar territory. You’re likely dealing with traffic laws you might not fully understand, on roads you’ve never been on before, and in a vehicle that might not even be your own.
You need to make sure you’re prepared for whatever might be thrown your way, especially if you’re driving with children. Here are six ways to help ensure that you and your family are safe while enjoying your time away.
1. Avoid Driving Tired
According to research posted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fatigue caused approximately 72,000 car accidents in 2013 – and that’s just in the U.S. alone. When you’re tired, your reaction time, judgment, and situation awareness all suffer. That’s dangerous enough driving on familiar streets, let alone in a city or country you’ve never visited before.
If you’re feeling jet-lagged after arriving at your destination, don’t play with fate. Uber or Lyft to your hotel instead of renting a car. You can always hit the rental car dealership after you’ve had a bit of time to recuperate.
2. Do Your Homework Before You Travel
How do traffic laws at your destination differ from your home city? What sort of road hazards are most common where you’re headed? How well-maintained and well-planned are the streets? What areas of the city are known to be dangerous, particularly at night?
These are questions you need to answer when taking a road trip abroad, particularly if you’re headed somewhere like the United Kingdom. It’s critical that you do a bit light reading on traffic regulations and rules beforehand. More importantly, use a tool like Google Maps to plan out your route so as to avoid getting lost.
3. Always Stay Focused (especially on a road trip abroad)
It shouldn’t need to be said, but especially if you’re driving somewhere new, stay focused on the road. With so much new to look at, it can distract you from the road. Be prepared to stop and take in the scenery so you can pay attention to the road while driving.
Do not, under any circumstances, use your phone while driving. The fact that distracted driving carries some pretty massive fines notwithstanding, your smartphone actually makes your reaction time and situational awareness worse than if you were driving drunk.
4. Don’t Skimp on Insurance
I’ve known plenty of people who didn’t want to bother with traveler’s insurance. They feel that liability insurance isn’t necessary. Then they get into a car accident and are left with a massive bill that basically precludes any trips for the foreseeable future.
Through mindfulness, research, and preparation, you can avoid the majority of accidents while abroad. But other people aren’t always going to be as mindful as you, and there’s always the chance of something unexpected, like mechanical failure or inclement weather.
5. Be Prepared for Road Tripping Abroad
Whether you’re going on a road trip or headed to the airport, it’s important that you bring the right supplies along for the trip. For that reason, I’d like to conclude this piece with a checklist. Here are a few things you should bring with you in the car — and a few additional safety measures you should take — both for yourself and for your children.
- An International Driver’s Permit
- Physical maps. GPS might not always work, and you need to be ready for that.
- Travel car seats.
- In-car smartphone chargers
- An International SIM card for your phone.
- A travel first aid kit.
- Plenty of snacks and drinks.
- Something to keep the kids entertained. This could be books, toys, a game console, or even some movies.
- A list of local emergency numbers.
- Expect to take frequent breaks along the way if you’re road tripping abroad. Google Maps might say you can reach a destination in a day or two, but it doesn’t account for stops. And you will need to stop for food, bathroom breaks, and rest.
6. Travel Mindful, Travel Safe
Different regions have different traffic laws, road hazards, and drivers. No matter where you travel, it’s best to keep that in mind in order to stay focused on the road, aware of your surroundings, and cognizant of your own physical and mental health.
Pay attention, do your research, and stay safe so you can focus on enjoying your family holiday.
Guest post: Ryan B. Bormaster is the managing attorney at Bormaster Law. The law firm practices in a number of areas but specializes in 18 Wheeler Accidents, Accidents with Commercial Vehicles such as Work Trucks and Catastrophic Injuries of all kinds.
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