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Driving rules in different countries

By By Kari Iverson, Contributing writer
Published On: Sep 14 2012 12:53:59 PM CDT
Updated On: Dec 19 2013 09:13:13 AM CST
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In the United States driving is presented in a straightforward manner.  In driver’s education class teenagers learn to stay on the right-hand side of the road, to avoid crossing any solid lines on high ways or freeways and to slow down at a yellow stoplight and stop when it is red. 


In other parts of the world driving rules can be very different, depending on where you are traveling to. In many countries traffic flows on the left side of the road. There are different rules all over the world when it comes to yielding to pedestrians.


Drinking and driving is of great concern on an international level. Everyone knows that drunk driving is dangerous not only for themselves but for everyone on the road with them, but many people continue to drive under the influence. In the United States, drunk driving can lead to jail time depending on what state you are in and if you have any previous offenses.


In other countries, laws vary. Some laws are stricter while others are more lenient. In France, for example, a $1,000 fine must be paid by the offender in addition to imprisonment for one year.  In South Africa, laws are even stricter.  Offenders can be sentenced to 10 years in prison and/or a hefty fine.  Drunk driving in India can be punishable by up to six months in prison or a fine of two thousand rupees if it is the first offense.      


In the United States, driving styles are different – drivers in Southern Florida are often more aggressive than drivers in the Midwest.  Driving styles differ even more on an international level.


In Vietnam, moto-bikes are very common.  It is not unlikely to see a family of five squeezed onto one bike.  Needless to say, seat belt laws are not as strictly enforced in Vietnam as they are in the United States. 


Another difference in driving laws between the United States and Vietnam is how a pedestrian crosses the street.  In the U.S., pedestrians wait until the crosswalk says “walk.”  In Vietnam a pedestrian simply begins crossing the street; it is important to maintain the same speed while crossing since moto-bikes will dodge you as you cross.   


Obtaining an international drivers permit (IDP) is important for driving while you are abroad. The IDP allows you to legally drive while in another country if you have a valid driver’s license from your state. IDP’s are issued by the American Automobile Association. You must be 18 years old to acquire one.


The U.S. Department of State offers country specific information about driving laws in other countries in their travel section. It is important to review these laws before traveling abroad.



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