Driving abroad: Lawyers issue safety advice to stay safe and everything you need to be aware of in case of an accident
People choose to drive when visiting foreign countries for a variety of reasons. Embarking on a journey to a foreign country is an adventure in itself - and while there are various modes of transport available, some intrepid travellers choose to navigate the roads behind the wheel, forging their own path and creating unforgettable memories along the way.
Driving in a foreign country can provide a sense of freedom and flexibility that can't always be achieved through other means of transport.
From the vibrant city streets to the serene countryside, travellers can immerse themselves in the beauty, rich history, and diverse cultures of a region.
The risks and responsibilities of driving abroad
While the allure of driving in a foreign country is undeniable, it's important to acknowledge the responsibilities and risks that come with it. Adapting to different traffic rules, deciphering unfamiliar road signs, and adjusting to local driving styles can be challenging. However, with careful preparation and a willingness to learn, those challenges, and the associated risks, can be minimised.
Here are some tips to help you drive safely abroad
- Familiarise yourself with local traffic rules: Research and understand the traffic laws and regulations of the country you'll be driving in. Pay attention to speed limits, road signs, and any unique driving customs.
- Ensure you have the correct documentation : Make sure you have a valid driver's licence that is recognised in the country you're visiting. Some countries may require an international driving permit (IDP), so check if it's necessary and obtain one if required : Driving abroad: Check if you need an international driving permit (IDP) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Study the road conditions: Learn about the road conditions, infrastructure, and potential hazards in the country you're visiting. This includes understanding the quality of the roads, weather forecast and any toll systems.
- Plan your routes in advance: Before setting off, plan your routes using reliable maps or GPS navigation systems. Familiarise yourself with alternative routes in case of unexpected road closures or heavy traffic.
- Be mindful of road signs and signals: Keep an eye out for road signs, traffic signals, and any specific local symbols or markings. Understanding these will help you navigate safely and avoid violations.
- Stay focussed and avoid distractions: Minimise distractions while driving, such as using mobile phones or adjusting the radio. Keep your attention on the road at all times, as unfamiliar surroundings can require extra concentration.
- Take breaks and stay well-rested: Long drives in unfamiliar areas can be tiring, so take regular breaks to rest and stretch. Avoid driving if you're feeling fatigued, as it can impair your reaction time and decision-making abilities.
- Check your insurance : Particularly if you are taking your own car to another country, is your trip covered? Are there any exclusions or limits that apply to your trip? If needed purchase appropriate insurance. Contact your insurance provider if needed.
- Be patient and courteous: Remember to be patient and respectful towards other road users. Different driving habits and road conditions may require adjustments, so maintain a calm and courteous attitude.
What do in case of an accident
The following points might also help you in case you are involved in an accident abroad :
- Call the emergency services if appropriate.
- Report any accident as soon as possible to your insurer. Some companies have a strict period for making a claim, which is worth checking before you travel. It’s also useful to keep the contact number for your provider to hand.
- Write down the details of any other parties.
- Write down contact details for any police officers involved.
- Write down the circumstances of the accident.
- If possible, take photographs of where the accident happened and what might have caused it.
- If there were any witnesses to the accident, get their names and contact details.
- If you seek medical attention, keep a report of any doctor’s notes, hospital documentation, and medical treatment receipts.
- Try to keep a diary of your appointments or any discussions with any related organisations following an injury.
The devastating impact of accidents abroad and the need to seek specialist support and help
Being injured in an accident abroad can have devastating consequences, and the prospect of having to pursue a claim in a foreign country, or involve elements of foreign law, can be a daunting one.
Claims involving cross border incidents can be complicated and so it's important to seek legal advice from someone who can advise on where you can bring a claim, the procedure involved, the time limits within which you have to act and who can help you overcome language barriers or time differences.
If you do suffer an injury that wasn't your fault while abroad, our lawyers may be able to help you claim compensation. Find out more about our expertise in helping people access support and rehabilitation at our dedicated accidents abroad section.