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Keep Your Mind on Road Safety When Driving Abroad

Sep 7, 2008
Are you trying to decide where to vacation this summer? For millions of people, summer vacation time means visiting a foreign country. There are numerous countries that can provide a new and exciting vacation experience for you no matter where you're from.

Spain is a particularly popular destination. UK and European vacationers have been enjoying this spectacular country for centuries. American tourists have only just begun to realize the charm of Spanish vacations.

Spain hosts more than 50 million tourists each year. While most of them simply visit the tourist traps, more and more tourists are realizing the reasons for exploring the country even further. There are truly some hidden pockets of paradise in Spain if one cares to find them.

The appeal of Spain draws visitors from many various countries. They flock to the warm climate to enjoy the beaches, relax with a drink, and let all of their cares melt away. However, in order to fully enjoy a vacation one needs to be prepared for any challenges that may arise.

For UK and Australian visitors especially, the roadways are a major source of danger. Spain requires drivers to drive on the right-hand side of the street, so tourists from left-hand driving countries may have difficulties adjusting. Driving a rental car may prove to be a tricky proposition.

It's thought that approximately one third of British tourists have driven on the wrong side of the street when visiting another country. This is, obviously, a dangerous mistake to make. A British tourist is twice as likely to die on the streets when abroad as in their own home country.

To avoid driving on the wrong side of the street, pre-vacation preparation is necessary. Reading the laws and regulations valid at your destination is a good place to start. Familiarize yourself with the laws and, if it helps, visualize how you will drive once in your rental car. You may feel silly, but visualizing will help you to cement the correct driving practices in your mind before you ever hit the roads.

Vacationers from the US sometimes mistakenly think that they will be driving on the right-hand side of the street when they rent a car in any country other than the UK. Plenty of countries outside of the UK observe a left-hand drive rule, and it's very important to be aware of this rule before traveling abroad.

Most notably, Ireland, Malta, Cyprus, several African countries, Thailand, Australia, and Hong Kong drive on the left-hand side of the street.

Traveling between two locations which drive on opposite sides of the street, such as when driving from England to France, can be intimidating. However, the crossover procedures at borders are relatively straightforward. The challenge remains in remembering to drive on the opposite side. In some countries, such as Australia, signs reminding foreign motorists to remain in the left-hand lane line the roads.

Although it can seem overwhelmingly difficult to drive in a way opposite to which you are accustomed, most travelers handle the challenge with no problems. It's important to remain vigilant, however, and keep the traffic laws in mind whenever you are behind the wheel. Reduce distractions in your rental car and place your entire focus on driving to avoid absentminded mistakes.

And don't let your concentration down while driving after a few days of the experience - this is when drivers are most likely to revert back to their home country procedures - particularly dangerous are junctions where you need to turn left or right, sometimes crossing to the other side of the road to get to the correct side. A relaxed driver who thinks he or she has worked it all out only needs a little lapse of concentration to do the wrong thing - with potentially fatal consequences.

Relax when you reach your destination - not before!
About the Author
Tribune have various travel guides for Europe, including for Malta where driving like the UK is on the left, at yourmalta.com

Included is Malta hotel direct contact details, flights with Airmalta and from leading Malta holiday companies all inclusive holiday Malta package deals.
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