Different International Driving Styles

Different International Driving Styles 1

By Laura Arroyave

Different International Driving Styles & How to Prepare

While many travellers utilize tour services or public transportation while abroad, some choose a slightly different route. Several companies offer travellers the option to rent private vehicles to navigate the region instead. Renting a car can be a great way to explore the area like a local, provided you appreciate the different international driving styles that prevail. Driving abroad also provides the added benefit of a little privacy and freedom to set the pace.

When it comes to driving in foreign countries, it’s important to be mindful of unique driving styles and attitudes. In some areas of the world, even the steering wheel sits on a different side of the vehicle. Each country has its own approach to enforcement of traffic laws as well, and understanding different international driving styles will help you navigate the streets with ease. Knowing what to expect before you get behind the wheel (whichever side of the car it’s on), is the key to having a safe and positive driving experience during your trip.

 

Driving on the Other Side of the Road

Driving on the opposite side of the road is often the first different style that comes to mind. In most countries, drivers must operate their vehicles on the right side of the road while on two-way streets. This is known as right-hand traffic. However certain places like Great Britain and Australia stick to the left side of the road while driving. Referred to as left-hand traffic, this style of driving is even utilized in specific cities. For example, in Hong Kong drivers use the left side of the road, while drivers in the mainland of China use the right.

The thought of driving on the opposite side of the road in a foreign country can be intimidating and may cause you to reconsider your transportation plans. The hardest part of learning this driving style is simply remembering to stay on the correct side of the street. Luckily, there are usually plenty of other cars on the road to follow. If you pay attention to the cars around you and practice safe driving skills, you can learn to drive anywhere with relative ease.

 

Driving on the Other Side of the Car

The side of the road that drivers use often affects the cars they drive as well. Countries that rely on left-hand traffic generally have vehicles that correspond with this driving style. Rather than sitting on the left, drivers in left-hand traffic countries sit on the right side to operate a vehicle. As a result, the gear shift is located to the left of the steering wheel. This can be confusing if you are used to driving on the other side of the car.

Luckily, you don’t have to pay much attention to the gear shift if you rent a car with an automatic transmission. The most important aspect of this driving style is learning the dimensions of the car from a different perspective. You can easily practice this at home in your driveway by sitting in the passenger seat and familiarizing yourself with the new position. On the other hand, learning to drive a vehicle with a manual transmission this way may require more effort.

 

Manual Transmissions

Automatic transmissions have become the norm in places like the United States, but this is not the case everywhere. Some countries still rely heavily on vehicles with manual transmissions, otherwise known as “stick shifts.” This is important to keep in mind if you plan to drive on your trip for several reasons.

First, driving a manual transmission takes more effort than an automatic. If you have never driven a stick shift before, it’s not a good idea to start while you’re on vacation. You will need to practice thoroughly beforehand to ensure your safety while driving abroad. Second, you may face difficulties if you have to drive on the opposite side of the car even if you have prior experience with stick shifts. This will also take getting used to with some practice.

Fortunately, there is an easy way to prepare for these driving conditions. Many private companies offer classes where you learn how to drive a stick shift with the help of an instructor. Sign up for a course and give yourself plenty of time to practice before you hit the road.

 

Strict Enforcement

Traffic laws are different in every country, as are the levels of enforcement. In general, it’s important to follow driving laws no matter where you are, to stay safe and avoid tickets. However, some countries are stricter about driving laws than others. While you might be able to get away with going a few miles over the speed limit at home, that is not always the case when you are driving abroad.

This seems to be especially true in countries that rely more heavily on other forms of transportation, as there are fewer vehicles on the road. To avoid facing penalties while on your trip, make sure to familiarize yourself with the traffic laws in the countries you are travelling to. Research the local policies on topics like:

  • Road signs.
  • Basic road rules.
  • Speed limits.
  • Use of headlights.
  • Cellphone use.

You can contact the DMV or the embassy to find out about more about international driving practices. That way, you can gain the knowledge you need before getting behind the wheel in a foreign country.

 

Aggressive Driving

This is a key thing to consider with different international driving styles. The driving culture among motorists tends to vary based on the country, and this can massively affect your driving experiences. In some places, enforcement of traffic laws is much more lax than others. You may find that the driving laws you researched are sometimes ignored by the drivers around you. At the same time, attitudes towards other drivers may be more aggressive than you are used to. This is usually true in areas with a large population and frequent traffic congestion.

With all this in mind, it’s important to research the driving culture as well as the traffic laws for wherever you plan to drive. That way, you know what to expect from other drivers and can react accordingly. Knowing what to watch out for is an important part of becoming a safe driver, no matter where you travel.

 

Different International Driving Styles 2

 

Guest Author at

Laura works for DMV and in her spare time loves to get out and about, travelling and adventuring the world.

28 thoughts on “Different International Driving Styles

  • September 30, 2018 at 1:39 am
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    I remember when I was driving around Australia, it was totally different than in US or even in UK or France. Where do you like to drive? In which country?

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  • September 26, 2018 at 8:36 pm
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    Great tips! Some of these I never would have thought of, we are a huge road trip family. Thanks for sharing.

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  • September 25, 2018 at 3:25 am
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    This is a great post. You usually don’t consider this when traveling, but it’s really important once you get where you’re going. I remember the first time I drove on the other side of the road. I think I prayed about a million times. By the time we were leaving, I was comfortable. I got back home and had to readjust to driving on the other side. Lol!

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  • September 24, 2018 at 9:03 am
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    I moved from the Netherlands to England last year and definitely needed some time to get used to traffic being on the other side of the road. Bought a car after a few months here and now it feels weird if I have to drive on the right side of the road and sit on the left side of the car… ;|
    Great tips!

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  • September 24, 2018 at 3:26 am
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    Driving feels so different in each and every country. Not only tempers of drivers but also courtesy rules differ. It is very important to know main directions to ensure your safety on the road

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  • September 22, 2018 at 5:46 am
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    Very informative post. I didn’t know that manual driving was more of an American thing.

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  • September 21, 2018 at 3:00 am
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    I love driving and going to places! So this post is pretty idealistic for me! Thanks so much for sharing!

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  • September 20, 2018 at 5:00 am
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    Great list of tips! These are very helpful for me, I’m planning to take my driver’s license this year! Thanks!

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  • September 19, 2018 at 2:35 pm
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    While the ideas of driving on the other side terrifies me, I think its something that I have always wanted to try. I never drive when I am at a different country – but I am thinking next time I should be more adventurous and give it a go!!

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  • September 19, 2018 at 11:27 am
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    I learned how to drive with a manual transmission car, but nothing beats the ease of driving automatic. 🙂

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  • September 19, 2018 at 9:35 am
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    Aggressive driving really stresses me out in some countries, even if we are only using Taxis and not driving ourselves.

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  • September 19, 2018 at 7:23 am
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    I love driving a lot and it brings me happiness but driving in another country really makes me crazy because everything is totally different. I agree with you that you must know their traffic laws or rules first before driving in another country.

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  • September 19, 2018 at 3:45 am
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    I tried driving last time I was in the UK. It was so strange! I did ok until I got to the roundabouts. Lol.

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  • September 19, 2018 at 2:55 am
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    Driving in a foreign country is indeed an interesting experience, thank you for these tips.

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  • September 19, 2018 at 2:47 am
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    These tips for international driving are so helpful! The last one made me think of how many drivers in Bali are very aggressive and drive on both sides of the road, so definitely important to be aware of that beforehand!

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  • September 19, 2018 at 2:09 am
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    Great list! I also agree with others that driving on the other side of the road would make me confused! I would take a turn and just instinctually go to the side of the road I normally am supposed to drive on!

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  • September 19, 2018 at 12:32 am
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    Having a car on vacation is so convenient, but there is lots to remember! I’m glad Uber is getting so popular…

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  • September 19, 2018 at 12:29 am
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    Agreed that it could be quite intimidating when driving on the other side of the road. It definitely causes some confusion in the beginning. I was so afraid to have a head-on collision when I was in Asia. Thanks for shedding some light regarding driving in different countries.

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  • September 18, 2018 at 8:25 pm
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    I think driving on the other side of the car would really trip me up! It’s amazing how used to driving on my side I am!

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  • September 18, 2018 at 7:24 pm
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    Driving does vary depending on which country you are in. Personally, I wish I knew how to drive a manual.

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  • September 18, 2018 at 7:18 pm
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    Driving on the other side of the road was the hardest thing for me to get used to. But, now when I go back home to visit and have to drive it takes me a minute to get used to my old way of driving again 🙂

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  • September 18, 2018 at 6:20 pm
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    The idea of driving in a different country terrifies me but this post is really useful in preparing for that.

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  • September 18, 2018 at 3:21 pm
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    I never really thought about going Camping overseas before, it looks like a great idea though. So many places that I am thinking you could explore while camping across different countries.

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  • September 18, 2018 at 12:19 pm
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    What a great guide, thanks for sharing! This is something I think not a lot of people consider until they’re actually in the situation.

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  • September 18, 2018 at 8:48 am
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    I love road trips and done some in Asia and some in Europe and UK. Some are driving in the left hand side and some are in the right hand side. You have a great list of tips to for driving in a new country.

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  • September 18, 2018 at 12:34 am
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    I think driving on the opposite side of the car and on the opposite side of the road would be so difficult to get used to!

    Reply

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