Driving in a different country is always an ordeal that has to be well thought of before being taken on. You must familiarize yourself with a number of things before you set out on this venture. Though it sounds easy, driving in a different country includes several changes that take some getting used to, to avoid getting caught.
Documents Required When Driving Abroad
While driving in a different country you must be very particular and posses the following documents for verification by any official authority.
- A valid driving licence
- An International Driving permit
- A copy of your driver record and licence check code
- All documents related to the vehicle that you are driving and its registration
- All insurances should be up to date, and travel insurance should be taken out
- Visa and passport
- If the car is rented or leased, a letter of authorisation should be provided by the third party.
One of the main factors to keep in mind while driving in a different country is the minimum age for driving legally. This age differs from place to place (Singapore 18, Indonesia 17, Canada 16 and Ethiopia 14) though the most common minimum age is 18.
Essentials While Driving Abroad
Certain essential equipments are a must while driving in a different country. Some of them are as follows:
- A ‘GB’ sticker
- Warning triangle
- Headlamp beam converters
- First Aid Kit
- Reflective jackets
The equipments mentioned above are those that are required as per legal precautions. Some other equipment like spare tyres, spare headlight bulbs, road maps, extra fuel/oil, tyre pumps. Though these things are not compulsory, it is a good precaution to make your journey a little easier.
Vehicle for driving
Before driving abroad, one of the most important things is to make sure that the vehicle is properly functional. A few things that can be done before driving in a different country include servicing the car, checking all tyres, checking coolant and fuel quantity. After doing the following, further precautions should be taken by keeping equipment like a foot pump, first aid kit, spare tire, tool kit, reflective jacket and warning triangle. Other than these things, the documentation of the car should all be valid and up to date. For renting a car abroad, preparations should be made beforehand as it is almost always more expensive to book a car on the spot, a better option would be to book it online beforehand. Make sure that if an International Driving Permit is required, it is prepared. The car being chosen should be properly insured and the person lending or leasing you the car gives you an authorisation letter as well. Another thing to keep in mind is to find out the company policy of crossing country borders, and their restrictions regarding this.
Most commonly made mistakes, when driving abroad
Listed below are some of the biggest mistakes that we make while driving abroad. Since the laws of driving differ in every country and even state, it is essential that before we embark on any travels, we familiarise ourselves with all the different rules. Though some laws are majorly different, there are also several minor changes that we must keep in mind as well.
Driving in the wrong lane: One of the most common mistakes that we make while driving in a different country is driving in the wrong lane. Right or left side of the road is always a big question while driving abroad. Know which side of the road you’re supposed to drive on beforehand.
Not knowing the varying speed limits: Driving abroad, to avoid being flagged down by the authorities you should be well informed about the varying speed limits in different countries as well as different parts of the countries. Remember not to exceed the speed limit or even drive too much under the speed limit, as this could cost you a fine too.
Not having the proper and required toolkit: Though the basic essentials of the legally required toolkit to be present in your vehicle is almost the same across the countries, some countries require you to have certain additional items (e.g. breath analyser) and if not present, you may find that your fine has been doubled !
Not carrying extra spare tyres: Often we do not take into account the factors like varying humidity and temperature as well as change in terrain while driving in a different country. Keeping these factors in mind, you should check all the tyre fluids and adjust them accordingly. Of course, a spare tyre is a must as well.
Not taking extra costs into consideration: Another thing that often gets forgotten while driving abroad are the several tolls and taxes that need to be paid. Always carry extra cash on you for these instances, at bridges tunnels etc. It should also be kept in mind that some fuel pumps are more expensive than the others, depending on the location and the quality.
Talking on the phone while driving: Though not everywhere, in most places talking on the phone is an offence while driving. In France, to have any sort of electronic device attached to your ear is considered breaking the law. So beware of this law and avoid taking calls or using your cellular phone while driving abroad.
Apart from these major laws, each country has some additional laws too. In Finland using your horn unless you’re in danger is illegal. Turning off your headlights in Norway can cost you. In Spain, if you wear spectacles or contact lenses, you can be fined for not having a spare pair in the car! Though absurd, these laws too should be adhered to in their respective countries to avoid unnecessary trouble.
When things go wrong driving abroad
Driving in a different country is not an easy task and sometimes on occasion, things do go wrong. In this case, the following precautions should be followed. If your car breaks down on the road, move it to the side of the road, put the hazard lights on and put the warning triangle if required. If the car is covered by insurance, the rescue team will reach the spot and the vehicle will be taken care of. If the car is not properly insured, the police will organise for you to be taken to a garage and have the car fixed after the necessary payments are made.