What Driving Fears Hit Hardest When Driving Abroad

driving abroadDriving phobias hit enough people driving around familiar places, but they can hit even harder or even develop where none existed before when motorists face driving in a foreign country. A UK survey found 75 percent of motorists driving abroad were bombarded with fears, although a bit of research and common-sense tips may help reduce the high number of the afraid.

What the Driving Survey Said

The survey data came from a UK insurance company called Allianz Your Cover, which polled 2,000 motorists throughout the UK. While the survey focused on UK drivers, we may be safe to assume that some of the same fears hit American drivers abroad, especially if we drive around Europe and other lands where the “wrong” side of the road is the “right” side. 

Biggest Fears for Driving Abroad

  • 35 percent: Accidentally driving on the wrong side of the road
  • 12 percent: Not knowing the rules of the road
  • 11 percent: Not understanding foreign street signs

Biggest Issues Driving Abroad

When it came to being pulled over by the police, the actual issues didn’t match the fears at all.

  • 37 percent: Speeding
  • 17 percent: Drunken driving
  • 20 percent: The all-too-common “no idea”

Biggest Annoyance Driving Abroad

And then there were the annoyances. While annoyances stir up a different set of emotions than fears do, they can impair driving abilities and performance just the same. The annoyances and the fears also stemmed from the same reasons.

  • 20 percent: Not knowing the road signs
  • 19 percent: Forgetting which side of the road to drive on
  • 20 percent: Admitted to becoming angrier driving abroad than they did in their native country, a situation that can potentially escalate into that dangerous thing called road rage

A few other juicy tidbits from the survey revealed:

  • 50 percent: Amount of women surveyed who feared they had a greater chance of a crash abroad
  • 20 percent: Amount of men surveyed who feared they had a greater chance of a crash abroad
  • 20 percent: Amount of women confident about driving in a foreign country
  • 35 percent: Amount of men confident about driving in a foreign country

Not to pass judgment here, but perhaps the fears, annoyances, traffic stops and chances of crashing would go down a tad if more drivers did a bit of research. The survey revealed only 40 percent of drivers said they reviewed driving laws in a country in which they were planning to drive during their visit and an even fewer 30 percent checked out the road signs and rules of the road.

The survey also speculated, based on the research, that 10 percent of drivers who decided to drive abroad would be privy to a parking fine, mechanical breakdown, police stop or have something stolen from their vehicles.

Where Driving Fears Fit In

One of the most notable pieces info to come out of the survey comes from comparing the fears to the actual incidents. That small slice of information alone shows us that fears did not match the reality, which is often the case with any type of phobia or anxiety. We fuel and harbor fears we know are unrealistic or become anxious and fretful about things that are never going to happen in a million-zillion years.

Of course, such logic doesn’t necessarily work to help quell the fears, but proper preparation may help just a shade.

Quick Tips for Driving in Britain

You probably want a quick course or review on driving with a stick shift, according to TravelFurther.net, as 90 percent of cars in the UK have one. And it’s a left-handed stick, to boot. Right turns on red are never allowed, you should only pass others on the right and speed cameras are pretty much everywhere. Roads are narrower and contain loads of roundabouts that make you slow to creep, two things that make travel plodding and pretty slow.  Roundabouts are too common, according to the TravelFurther site, although they are a good idea in some instances.

Roundabouts are traffic circles that you must slow down to enter and drive through, giving traffic in the roundabout the right of way over you. Giving the right of way is called “giving way,” by the way, and passing someone is called “overtaking” them. “Give way” signs at an intersection function kind of like American “Yield” signs. You are expected to slow down and then stop and “give way” to other incoming traffic.

Quick Tips for Driving in Mexico

You definitely want to invest in Mexican car insurance, MexConnect.com says, as your U.S. insurance is not valid. Impounding your vehicle can be the norm after a traffic stop as is the tenant that you are guilty until proven innocent. Bad driving habits include not using turn signals and driving around with non-working brake lights. Speed bumps, pot holes and poor road conditions are common, as is giving the right of way to the “bigger guy” even if it’s technically your turn to move forward through an intersection. It’s easier and safer to drive during daylight — and give the right of way to the “bigger guy.”

Quick Tips for Driving in Canada 

Driving in Canada is similar to driving in America, the U.S. Embassy tells us, except speed and distance signs will be in metrics and some road signs may be in French. Common bad habits include rapid lane changes and tailgating.

Canada’s rules of the road include seat belt use, intersections with signs showing the only turns allowed and, in some provinces, keeping headlights on during the day. You may not find merging lanes when you hit a highway, which may help explain how the rapid lane changes and tailgating habits developed. Your U.S. driver’s license and insurance is valid, provided you’re just visiting.


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