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Driving a car gives a traveller more independence and flexibility than scheduled transportation, such as air travel, rail travel, or bus travel.

UnderstandEdit

Driving is often the fastest mode of transportation at distances between 10 kilometres (6 mi) and 100 kilometres (60 mi), unless there are traffic jams, or if the roads are in bad condition. In countries with a fast modern high speed rail network, however, driving between big cities is usually slower than using the trains. Within cities urban rail, cycling and buses (if given priority) often beats cars in terms of speed due to congestion and problems of finding parking, over small distances even walking can be faster. In sparsely populated areas public transport may be infrequent or non-existent, and in difficult terrain there may be no railway.

Drivers' licenseEdit

Most countries require you to have a valid license before you will be allowed to drive, though whether or not this is actually enforced varies from country to country. Nevertheless, you are still strongly advised not to drive without a valid license, as you could be subject to fines and possible imprisonment if caught, and any insurance policies you may have purchased will not cover you in the event of an accident.

Some countries allow foreign licenses, especially from neighboring countries; for example Canada and the USA accept each others' licenses. Many but by no means all other countries will accept an international driving permit (IDP), usually obtained from the automobile association in your home country. If your stay in a country exceeds a certain amount of time, you will often have to get a local license. This may involve simply exchanging your foreign license for a local translation or going through the full courses and testing as a local who has no license would have to.

Insurance policiesEdit

Check your insurance; not all policies cover international travel and even those that do may not meet the requirements of a destination's regulations. You really do not want to find yourself having to appear in court because of an accident your insurance did not cover, especially when the court may be far from your home or may operate in a foreign language. Nor do you want bills your insurance does not cover, whether auto repair, legal or medical.

Border crossingsEdit

Some borders may be no problem to cross with your own car, but rental cars may be a different story. Many rental contracts forbid driving to certain neighboring countries or even regions of the same country.

Bringing a vehicle into some countries requires a Carnet de Passages; like the IDP this is usually obtained from the automobile association in your home country.

Road conditionsEdit

Road conditions and driving habits vary from country to country and between regions. If you will drive in winter or in mountains, check implications of winter driving. If you may be using unpaved roads or roads in bad condition, check what to expect, and also the fine print of your insurance. In sparsely inhabited areas navigating may involve some challenges and breaking down or losing your way is worse than near people. Have and use a map, and get your GPS working.

General informationEdit

DestinationsEdit

 
Countries driving on the left (blue) or right (red)

AfricaEdit

MoroccoEdit

Main article: Driving in Morocco

Comparatively easily to get to from Europe, the mountains and deserts can be explored by car.

South AfricaEdit

Main article: Driving in South Africa

South Africa is quite a large country, and a lot of the attractions are in rural areas. Therefore, public transport isn't good everywhere, and driving is popular.

AsiaEdit

ChinaEdit

Main article: Driving in China

You must have a Chinese license to drive in China. Driving in China is also chaotic, so it is often wise to hire a driver or take taxis to get around. If you do want to drive in China, though, a lot of information about how others drive is very useful. China's major cities generally have good public transportation networks, so you are highly advised to make use of those instead when possible.

JapanEdit

Main article: Driving in Japan

With an efficient and very punctual rail network, driving in Japan is not necessary but doable, especially when going into rural destinations public transport doesn't cover well.

PhilippinesEdit

Main article: Driving in the Philippines

Almost all foreign travellers can drive in the Philippines up to three months, where applying for a Philippine driving license is necessary for long-term stays. While cars are also popular there due to American influence (though only about 5% of Filipinos own cars), driving in the Philippines is also nerve-racking and best avoided unless you have a good reason. Major highways may be up to international standards, but roads can be narrow and congested, and take you to the middle of villages and towns.

EuropeEdit

Main article: Driving in Europe

Europe generally has good road networks, although high population density means that there can be a lot of other cars on the road, making driving more difficult. Driving in cities is often problematic and there is good public transportation, so a car is usually needed only for the countryside.

OceaniaEdit

AustraliaEdit

Main article: Driving in Australia

Australia has a strong consumer car culture, and most adult Australians drive to get around their respective cities. While public transportation is available in the larger cities, a car is essential to get around in smaller cities and the countryside.

Much of Australia's population lives a relatively small area on the southeast coast, and travel between the southeastern coastal cities of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne is possible if you have a lot of time. However, to get to Perth, you have to travel great distances across Australia's desert country.

New ZealandEdit

Main article: Driving in New Zealand

Cars are very popular in New Zealand, and a car is necessary if you want to see New Zealand's beautiful countryside.

North AmericaEdit

CanadaEdit

Main article: Driving in Canada

Most of Canada's roads are in the south, due to the low population density and extremely cold weather in the north. As Canada is rather sparsely populated, cars are necessary to get around the countryside and small to medium-sized cities.

MexicoEdit

Main article: Driving in Mexico

United StatesEdit

Main article: Driving in the United States

The United States is the country where cars dominate the most, and must be used if you want to get the best idea of the American countryside, its history, and important destinations throughout. Since the United States is large, especially when compared to its population, there are opportunities to "hit the road" and be far from busy highways, or opportunities to get off the road altogether. With very few exceptions, even major cities like Los Angeles, Detroit, Miami and Houston tend to be poorly served by public transport, and having a car is generally the best way to get around. The contiguous United States has good and well-maintained network of Interstate Highways, making it a breeze to drive between nearby major cities.

South AmericaEdit

BrazilEdit

Main article: Driving in Brazil
 
In some areas you have to look out for wildlife.

Stay safeEdit

Road safety differs much between countries. In some, roads may be of very bad quality, with potholes or damaged sections with no warnings, in some the climate poses a challenge, in some reckless driving is common. Some of the dangers can be mitigated or minimized with proper preparations, in some countries you should consider leaving the driving to locals. It's best to avoid unpaved roads if possible.

CrimeEdit

In some areas, automotive vandalism or theft can be quite common. To mitigate some risk, keep your doors locked when you are away from the car or when the car is in motion, and the windows up when possible. Keep valuables on your person, or out of view in the trunk or glovebox if that is not practical. In some areas, criminals may try to siphon off gas from your car, install credit card skimmers at gas station pumps, or offer to "protect" your parked car for a fee (Vandalizing it if you don't pay and leave it parked there anyway). Some cars are equipped with anti theft systems that can send an alert to your phone if it detects unusual activity.

Severe weatherEdit

If you are going to drive in the Arctic, in winter in temperate climats or in mountains (including mountain passes), you should acquaint yourself with advice for winter driving. The roads will be slippery, sight may be reduced (snow can cause "whiteouts" where you hardly see ten metres) and getting stuck will make you have to cope with cold weather.

Dense fog may actually be the deadliest weather phenomenon you encounter, as it drastically reduces visibility and thus causes traffic accidents. Sometimes there is fog only in valleys or by bodies of water; when driving downhill visibility can be abruptly reduced unless you are alert.

Flooding can trap you. Driving on a road covered with water is dangerous as judging the depth and the condition of the road (which may have been damaged) is difficult. Water can destroy the engine by abruptly cooling parts of it, and if deep enough even sweep away the car.

See alsoEdit

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