Driving in a foreign country can be a fascinating experience. There’s a lot that’s different, a lot that’s the same, and depending on where you are, those two may be very different. Fortunately, I’ve learned a lot travelling the world, and I’m eager to share what I know to help people out.
My first bit of advice is to try not to drive in the first place. I’ve found that countries tend to be much more enjoyable when you’re not wondering about traffic safety and being on the right side of the road. Still, if you really must drive, there are things you need to keep in mind.
First, use the Internet. Traffic rules in one country do not always line up with that of another. You’ll want to know the differences, including small details.
Second, remember what the lights stand for. Red means stop. Green means go. These are universal, though sometimes you might see blue instead of green. This is particularly common in Asia, where the genetic mutation required to see certain colours is less common.
The third tip is that, if you can manage, you should really find a traffic manual on the country you’re visiting. If possible, keep it to only one country and not try to master the rules of the road on more than one nation.
Learn the local driving culture. That’s my fourth tip. Yes, most countries share the same traffic laws and regulations. It makes it easier for drivers from one land to move around in another. It’s what makes international driver’s licenses possible.
However, there are differences to keep in mind. The British “drive on the wrong side of the road,” as Americans put it. For the Japanese, yellow lights still mean slow down, not speed up so you’re not on the wrong side of a red light. These details matter and you should learn them.
Finally, consider getting insurance. This comes in handy if you ever find yourself in need of a tow like I did back in Perth that one time. You can check the website of the guys I called; they do good work and my insurance paid for things.