Road Safety Overseas
An estimated 1.17 million deaths occur each year worldwide due
to road accidents. The majority of these deaths, about 70 percent,
occur in developing countries. Sixty-five percent of deaths involve
pedestrians and 35 percent of pedestrian deaths are children.
Over 10 million people are crippled or injured each year. It is
estimated that more than 200 U.S. citizens die each year due to
road accidents abroad. The
majority of road crash victims (injuries and fatalities) in developing
countries are not the motor vehicle occupants, but pedestrians,
motorcyclists, bicyclists and non-motor vehicles (NMV) occupants.
U.S. citizens are urged to review the Road Safety segment of Department
of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs Consular
Information Sheets at http://travel.state.gov/travel_warnings.html
and the country-specific links below for
any country in which you intend to drive or travel by road as
a passenger. Check
with the embassy or consulate of the countries where you will
visit to learn about requirements for driver's license, road
permits, and auto insurance. It is important to be aware of the
rules of the road in other countries, and the fact that road conditions
can vary widely. It is also important to be aware of security
concerns when driving abroad. Driving under the influence can
have severe criminal penalties in other countries. The issue of
international road safety continues to be a matter of growing
concern to governments, international organizations, non-government
organizations and private citizens. See the links to these topics
and to other organizations below. May 1-7, 2000 was the UN
National Road Safety Week for Economic Commission for Europe
(ECE) countries. In 1998,
the World Health Organization ranked road accidents as the 9th
leading cause of mortality and disease.
Overseas Security Advisory Council's (OSAC) publications provide
about security and auto travel abroad. Potential victims of
kidnapping and assault are probably most vulnerable when entering
or leaving their homes or offices. Always carefully observe surroundings
for possible surveillance upon leaving and returning. Never enter
a car without checking the rear seat to ensure that it is empty.
Do not develop predictable patterns. If possible, exchange company
cars or swap with coworkers occasionally. Know the location of
police, hospital, military, and government buildings. Avoid trips
to remote areas, particularly after dark. Select well-traveled
streets as much as possible. Keep vehicles well-maintained at
all times. When driving, keep automobile doors and windows locked.
Be constantly alert to road conditions and surroundings. Never
pick up hitchhikers. Carry 3 x 5 cards printed with important
assistance phrases to aid with language problems. Always carry
appropriate coins for public phones. Practice using public telephones.
Report all suspicious activity to the company security contact
if applicable. Always lock the doors when parking a car, no matter
where it is located.
Information for Students
The Department of State is engaged in outreach efforts to education-related
organizations to publicize road safety risks in other countries.
Students, who may chose less expensive, often less reliable methods
of local travel while in foreign countries, should be aware of
the potential danger. See the
Center for Global Education, USC, travel and transportation web
site at Travel and Transportation and the
personal safety site at USC, Center for Global Education for
more information. Students traveling abroad should also be aware
of the dangers of potentially reckless behavior, including careless
driving or driving under the influence. It should also be noted
that penalties for persons judged responsible for automobile accidents
resulting in injury or fatalities are treated very seriously by
foreign authorities and can result in extremely stiff prison sentences.
See our information for students
and the Consular Information Sheet for the
country you are visiting.
International Driving Permits
Although many countries do not recognize U.S. driver's licenses,
most countries accept an international driving permit (IDPs).
IDPs are honored in more than 150 countries outside the U.S. (See
application form for the list of countries. They function
as a legal identification document that translates U.S. driver’s
license information into 11 foreign languages. These licenses
are not intended to replace valid U.S. state licenses and
should only be used as a supplement to a valid license. IDPs
are not valid in an individual’s country of residence.
Before departure, you can obtain one from an automobile association
authorized by the U.S. Department of State to issue IDPs. Article
24 of the United Nations Convention on Road Traffic (1949) authorizes
the U.S. Department of State to empower certain organizations
to issue IDPs to those who hold valid U.S. driver’s licenses.
The Department has designated the American Automobile Association
(AAA) and the American Automobile Touring Alliance as the only
authorized distributors of IDPs. Many foreign countries require
deposit of a customs duty or an equivalent bond for each tourist
automobile entering its territory, and the motoring associations
are equipped with the necessary facilities for providing expeditiously
a standard bond document (Article 3 of the Convention). The Convention
is not applicable to United States motorists using their cars
in the United States.
HOW TO APPLY FOR AN INTERNATIONAL DRIVING PERMIT: Before
departure, you can obtain one at a local office of one of the
two automobile associations authorized by the U.S. Department
of State: the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the American
Automobile Touring Alliance.
To apply for an international driving permit, you must be at
least age 18, and you will need to present two passport-size photographs
and your valid U.S. license. The cost of an international driving
permit from these U.S. State Department authorized organizations
is under $20.00.
INTERNATIONAL DRIVING PERMITS ISSUED BY UNAUTHORIZED PERSONS:
The Department of State is aware that IDPs are being sold over
the Internet and in person by persons not authorized by the Department
of State pursuant to the requirements of the U.N. Convention of
1949. Moreover, many of these IDPs are being sold for large sums
of money, far greater than the sum charged by entities authorized
by the Department of State. Consumers experiencing problems should
report problems to their local office of the U.S. Postal Inspector,
the Better Business Bureau, or their state or local Attorney General’s
Car rental agencies overseas usually provide auto insurance,
but in some countries, the required coverage is minimal. When
renting a car overseas, consider purchasing insurance coverage
that is at least equivalent to that which you carry at home. In
general, your U.S. auto insurance does not cover you abroad. However,
your policy may apply when you drive to countries neighboring
the United States. Check with your insurer to see if your policy
covers you in Canada, Mexico, or countries south of Mexico. Even
if your policy is valid in one of these countries, it may not
meet that country’s minimum requirements. For instance, in most
of Canada, you must carry at least $200,000 in liability insurance,
and Mexico requires that, if vehicles do not carry theft, third
party liability, and comprehensive insurance, the owner must post
a bond that could be as high as 50% of the value of the vehicle.
If you are under-insured for a country, auto insurance can usually
be purchased on either side of the border.
The U.S. Department of State, Overseas Security Advisory Council
(OSAC) provides brochures for American families and business travelers
abroad for guidance about driving overseas.
TIPS ON DRIVING ABROAD
Obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP).
Carry both your IDP and your state driver's license with
you at all times.
As many countries have different driving rules. If possible,
obtain a copy of the foreign country’s rules before you begin
driving in that country. Information may be available from the
foreign embassy in the United States (http://www.embassy.org/embassies/index.html),
foreign government tourism offices: (http://www.towd.com/),
or from a car rental company in the foreign country.
Some countries have a minimum and maximum driving age.
Certain countries require road permits, instead of tolls,
to use on their divided highways, and they will fine those
found driving without a permit.
Always "buckle up." Some countries have penalties for people
who violate this law.
Many countries require you to honk your horn before going
around a sharp corner or to flash your lights before passing.
Before you start your journey, find out who has the right
of way in a traffic circle.
If you rent a car, make sure you have liability insurance.
If you do not, this could lead to financial disaster.
If the drivers in the country you are visiting drive on the
opposite side of the road than in the U.S., it may be prudent
to practice driving in a less populated area before attempting
to drive during the heavy traffic part of the day.
Always know the route you will be traveling. Have a copy
of a good road map, and chart your course before beginning.
Do not pick up hitchhikers or strangers.
When entering your vehicle, be aware of your surroundings.
Treaties on Roads and Transport
The United States is a party to two multilateral treaties regarding
roads and transport:
Convention on the Regulation of Inter-American Automotive
Traffic (1943); 61 Stat. 1129; TIAS 1567; 3 Bevans 865.
Convention on Road Traffic
(1949); 3 UST 3008; TIAS 2487; 125 UNTS 22, United Nations
(UN) under Databases/Treaties.
The United States is not a party to:
Convention on the Law Applicable to Traffic Accidents, (1971),
now in force in Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic,
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Luxembourg,
the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland,
Belarus and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the
U.N. Convention on Road Traffic, (1968), or, the
Agreement on the Adoption of the Inter-American Manual on Traffic
Control Devices for Streets and Highways, (1979), now in force
Reports on International
from the Commission to the Council, The European Parliament,
the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the
Regions, Priorities in EU Road Safety, Progress Report and
Ranking of Actions, Brussels, March 17, 2000
Party on Road Traffic Safety, UN/ECE, April 2000: Future Work
Resolution on Road Traffic, Revision 5, January 1998, Inland
Transport Committee, Economic Commission for Europe
Consolidated Resolution on Road Traffic: Jan 1998
Safety of Vulnerable Road Users, August 1998
U.S. Government Links
Road Safety Statistics
Country Specific Links
on Road Safety and Related Issues
CHINA, HONG KONG SAR
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
YUGOSLAVIA, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF
Regional Road Links
Asia and Pacific
Western Hemisphere (Central and South America and the Caribbean)
Near East and South Asia
Links on Road Safety
OECD - Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
on Road Safety
2000 National Conference
on Safety, May 8-10, 2000, British Columbia, Canada
International Seminar: Gambit 2000: "Partnership for Road
Safety - a New Approach to the Problem", May 11-13, 2000,
Technical University of Gdansk, Poland
World Congress of the International Association for Accident
and Traffic Medicine, May 28-31, 2000, Stockholm, Sweden
Safety 2000, June 7-9, 2000, Church House Conference Centre,
London, 0207 7304 6864
11th International Conference on Traffic Safety on Three Continents,
road safety problems and solutions in Africa, Europe, and
the U.S. will be held on September 20-22, 2000 in Pretoria,
Conference on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety
for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine, AAAM, 44th Annual
Conference, October 1-4, 2000, Chicago, Illinois
On Safe Roads Into the XXI Century, October 24-26, 2000,
Budapest, Hungary, e-mail: email@example.com