Car Accidents on Vacation

Passport? Check. International charger adapters? Check. International driving permit – what? A person may think he or she is ready to travel, only to forget one of the most important aspects of traveling – staying safe.

Few people know that car crashes are the No. 1 cause of death among travelers who are healthy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Fortunately, understanding how to prepare for driving a car while abroad or in another state can help prevent an inconvenience, or even a more serious accident, during a trip.

How Common Are Car Crashes?

There are nearly 50 million reported injuries, and 1.3 million reported deaths, in car crashes worldwide each year. A large majority of the deaths occur in lower income countries, and 25,000 of those deaths are of tourists traveling in the country, says the CDC.

CDC reports also indicate that injured travelers involved in car crashes abroad compose more than half of medical evacuations back to the U.S, which can cost upward of $100,000.

Thinking About Driving While on Vacation?

It’s understandable for a person to want to use his or her own vehicle while traveling both in the U.S. and abroad. It may be challenging to adjust to handling a rental car different from one’s own vehicle while safely navigating a new land.

A person must know, however, that while driving in the U.S. is perfectly fine with a United States driver’s license, most countries do not recognize our driver’s licenses as legal documents to drive on their roads.

If traveling abroad, check with the country’s embassy to find the precise driver’s license requirements. In most cases, a person will have to apply for an International Driving Permit (IDP) and pay a $20 fee before visiting a foreign country through one of these two options:

Know Safety Laws When Traveling in the U.S.

A person traveling within the U.S. should not experience too much change in laws while driving from state to state. Generally, signs will be there to indicate what the rules are.

It’s still vital, however, that a person knows the laws of the state they are visiting, or they increase the risk of causing a serious accident or having a less-than-optimal experience with the local police.

It’s worth spending a few minutes becoming familiar with important state laws in the area you will be traveling. Distracted driving laws, move-over laws, hazard light-use laws, and more applicable rules may be a little different where you will be traveling.

Learn Safety Laws When Traveling Abroad

Likewise, a person traveling outside of the country should look into his or her destination country’s road safety laws before planning to drive on it’s roads. Aside from the fact signs may not be in a person’s native language, if you’ll be traveling where you drive on the left side of the road, you’ll have to really study up because the laws will seem so different.

Know if You’re Covered When Traveling

In most cases, a person’s U.S. car insurance does not cover him or her when traveling abroad (aside from the border countries). A person needs to check with his or her individual auto insurance policy before leaving the country.

Be advised, however, that even if an auto policy does provide coverage in a foreign country, it may not always meet that country’s minimum requirements. A person will then need to purchase additional coverage. Travelers should also review the coverage provided when renting a car overseas. If he or she finds it is minimal, they should consider purchasing a policy equal to his or her U.S. insurance coverage.

If a traveler does find him or herself in a car accident overseas or while traveling in the U.S., he or she should contact experienced personal injury lawyers like the team at Hal Waldman and Associates.