Hiring a car internationally & driving tips

Discussion in 'Resources' started by Manan, Apr 28, 2013.

  1. Manan

    Manan Well-Known Member

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    Hi all,

    So after doing a lot of road trips around the world in various different cars, I had assumed that everyone could very easily figure out how to hire a car abroad, it's pros & cons ... and driving rules.

    (btw I'm not sure where to post this ... so I've currently posted it in Travelogues around the world. My request to the moderators to kindly shift it to the appropriate place)

    Then I came across this article in Hindustan Times about it around a month back. And I realized that it was just total crap! They had given plain wrong information about the rules of an International Driving Permit (IDP) (they actually called it an international license :shock: in the article & went ahead & said that if you have one, you don't need your own countries license!!!).

    So I thought I should just post / start a kinda international driving 101 to help everyone who wants to drive abroad.

    Firstly, why drive abroad? I can think of several reasons why I would do it:
    1. Having your own car gives you great flexibility
    2. You can reach places where public transport is either infrequent or non-existent
    3. It's much easier to manage luggage
    4. For all those out there who love driving like I do, just the driving part will 'make' your trip

    I can think of several more. But instead of harping about the pros & pros, let me jump into the practicalities.

    1. For hiring a car abroad, you will need these things without fail. If you don't have even 1 of these, you mostly won't be able to get a car: (I will cover EACH point in detail in a bit)
    a. An international credit card in your name.
    b. Your local driving license
    c. In case you are going to a country which doesn't inherently speak English, you will need an IDP (International Driving Permit) (or in some cases, if the car hire company *specifically* asks for an IDP in spite of speaking English)

    2. You will need to book your car online. All major car companies like Hertz, Avis, Dollar / Thrifty, Budget etc. have their own websites. You can either compare the rates individually, or use a website like www.expedia.com to compare the rates for you. You can also book via expedia / other broker sites ... or directly from the company site.

    Internationally, hiring a car without a 'chauffeur' is the norm. It will be terribly expensive to have a driver out there & it kinda defeats the purpose completely.

    Now let me give out tips & let me explain the terms that people use to 'understand' the mysteries of car hire.
     
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  2. sbk

    sbk Member

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    Good topic to discuss Manan. But I think 'International' is too broad a term to use. From India's perspective international could mean USA or Vietnam equally. I think you have to segment the world into clusters (eg. North America, Europe etc.) to have meaningful discussion. But it's an interesting topic to talk about nonetheless!
     
  3. Manan

    Manan Well-Known Member

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    Re: Hiring a car internationally & driving tips

    Tips:

    Booking:

    1. When you book your car, you should NOT have to pay anything upfront. If the car hire company asks for your credit card details during booking, skip it & try another one.

    2. There are pre-paid bookings which fall around 10% or so cheaper, but I would strongly recommend against those. At least for the first couple of your trips.

    3. There are A and B group companies out there. Hertz, Avis & all the big names are the 'A' group companies. They usually have a policy of selling off their cars after 6 months! That means your cars will be practically brand new.

    4. 'B' group companies will be cheaper. But they will skimp on the quality of the cars usually ... also they might not have their cars at the airports themselves but will have a shuttle service to their location (this wastes a bit of your time)

    5. Hiring a car from the airport itself has the added advantage of you saving a bit on taking a taxi from the airport. But usually, picking up a car from the airport will attract a 'surcharge' which usually negates this small advantage. For your first trip, avoid taking the car from the airport itself.

    6. When you book a car, they will *only* reserve a *category* for you. The *actual* make of the car that you get will depend on what's available.
    Categories available are usually:
    Economy
    Compact
    Standard / Full-size
    SUV
    Van
    etc.


    Tips about Picking up the car:

    Formalities:
    1. Firstly, on going to the car counter, they will ask to see your papers. Let's see each one in detail:
    a. Driving License:
    a.1 The minimum age for hiring a car is usually 25. If you're younger than 25, they will charge you an extra amount ... or in some cases refuse to hire you the car. Usually 'Luxury' cars like Audis, Mercedeses etc. will not be hired to people under 25.
    a.2 You must have held your current driving license for *at least* 1 year - 3 years (this will be mentioned at the time of booking in the fine-print. Read it carefully & ascertain if you are eligible for the car before booking)
    a.3 You should not have any major 'endorsements' in your license. now in India, we don't have the system usually to actually mark in our licenses when we commit a traffic offense so we're usually safe here.

    b. IDP:
    b.1 For non-English speaking countries ... (most of Europe is non-English speaking for example), you will need a 'translation' of your license. This translation is called an IDP (International Driving Permit).
    To get one, you will either have to visit your local RTO ... or go to WIAA ... the only other body authorized to issue an IDP in India.
    You will need 4 passport sized photos, your passport with a photocopy, a VALID VISA and of course your driving license.
    ALL your details between your passport & license have to match. If your address is different, an agent will temporarily change your address on your license to match your passport & then change it back for a fee. But if your name / date of birth etc. doesn't match, you're out of luck!!!
    It takes 1 working day to get your IDP. You should NOT have to hand over your passport to anyone. The RTO chaps will just examine it and return it.
    The IDP will be valid for 1 year from the date of issue.
    It doesn't matter which country's visa you use to get your IDP. you can travel to any country & use it after getting it.

    And the most important thing: Your IDP is completely useless without being accompanied by your local license. Don't leave your Indian license at home!!!

    So how does this IDP thing work? You haven't taken a driving test ... how do they ensure that you drive properly in their country? The logic as to my understanding is this: All countries allow foreign nationals to drive in their country as a courtesy ... so long as they have their own country's valid license. The idea is that once you drive, your brain 'kicks in' and adapts to each country (obviously the thinkers of this rule hadn't driven in India ;)).
    But this is ONLY valid for 6 months. If you are staying in any country for longer than 6 months, you have to take the local driving test & get a license issued of that country.

    Oh and in case I wasn't clear earlier: There is NOTHING like and International Driving License. Such a document does NOT EXIST!!!


    c. International Credit Card
    The amount of your entire rental will be 'blocked' on your credit card at the time of rental. When you return the car, after a couple of days, they will deduct the actual amount. You must have *enough credit limit* to cover the entire rental + the insurance excess amount (I will explain all about insurance in a bit. Just bear with me for a moment).

    The thing is that a swiped credit card is the ONLY way that the company can recover costs if you damage their car & the amount they need to recover from you is greater than what has been blocked / paid. So even if you want to make the entire payment by cash (which is usually not allowed) or by debit card, they will STILL need a credit card all the same.

    For certain luxury cars, they will insist on 2 credit cards in your name. They will swipe both.


    d. Insurance
    CDW / LDW & Third-party insurance.
    CDW means Collision Damage Waiver. LDW means Loss Damage Waiver. They are just different terms for the same thing depending on the country you are hiring in. Both of these are optional (but highly recommended). Third-party insurance is compulsory (it will be covered by your overseas health insurance i.e. travel insurance in case you decide to waive off insurance. If you do have to do that, you will need to show them your travel insurance printout)

    So how does this insurance thingy work? Suppose you take an expensive car ... and scratch it / bang it / completely total it. Who bears the loss? Getting a small scratch here & there is very easy when you're driving in a foreign country esp. if you're used to scratching your car in India ;). Car insurance, though a major scam IMO, is still a very essential evil. (Why is it a scam? I'll explain it at a later date).

    The way it works is that you basically pay a premium daily ... and the insurance company is now liable for any damage / loss of the car (but let me tell you the fineprint before you think of deliberately banging their car).
    It's HIGHLY recommended that you take this insurance.

    In case you damage the car, there will be some formalities you will have to follow (Check with the car company. Thankfully I have no experience with this ... yet ;)).
    But the key is that there is a certain amount of 'excess' that they charge you still. This is to ensure that you don't become a 'casual' driver & damage the car knowing that you won't have to pay anything. You will *still* have to pay a minimum amount which is usually quite large. To give you perspective, an Opel Zafira costs avg. 5000 Rs. a day to hire ... it's insurance excess is around 60,000 Rs. after conversion. In case I were to NOT have insurance though, and if I were to total the car, I would have to most likely pay in excess of 10Lac.
    They will be very eager to make you take insurance so there's no chance of you forgetting. What you CAN avoid though is a Super-CDW. This charges MUCH MORE per day ... but your excess is now very less or 0 depending on how much you are ready to pay upfront. I won't normally take this super insurance cover.

    Now about the insurance fineprint:
    d.1: Only the main driver i.e. you will be insured. Which means that if your husband / wife / friend was driving the car ... and an accident occured, they will NOT pay any insurance.
    If you want to 'allow' others to drive the car, you must buy insurance for them too. This is called 'Additional Driver'. Some companies charge for this, some don't. You MUST take this for each person who is going to be driving ... even if it is just for a short time. (You cannot add this later on. This has to be decided at the time of taking the rental)

    d.2: Usually, the insurance does NOT cover tyres, windscreen & the under-carriage of the car. Which means if you have a flat tyre & you destroy it, they have the right to refuse to pay for that.

    d.3: There might be certain cases when the insurance won't cover your car in case of an accident. This is usually in the case of 3rd world countries. In most developed countries, the rules are pretty straight-forward.

    Other terms:
    Extra Driver / Additional Driver (this is VERY important): As mentioned above, kindly declare ALL people who are going to be driving the car at the time of taking the rental. You will need to give the License, IDP etc. of each person who will be driving. The Credit Card though will only need to be in the name of the first i.e. primary driver.

    Excess: The amount of money you will need to pay in case the car is damaged and is eligible for insurance. Super-CDW reduces this but you have to pay more per day.


    e. Fuel Policy:
    When you pick up your car, it will be clean, and will have a full tank. You must return it with a full tank. Ideally, you should refuel it at the closest pump right before the place where you drop your car off during returning.
    e.1 In case you do not return the car with a full tank, they will charge you a surcharge & a re-fuelling charge. Basically, just top it up before returning it ;)
    e.2 If possible, preserve the petrol / diesel bill of your last full tank. In case you see a re-fuelling charge on your credit card after a month of returning the car, this will help you claim that amount back!


    f. Choosing the car:
    Different places will have different systems. But by-and-large, you will get to choose from multiple cars in a particular category. For example, in Las Vegas, we could choose from over 30 cars in our category. On the other hand, in Sweden, we had just 1 car waiting for us so there was nothing to choose from!

    As a rule, when I choose a car, I look at the amount of kms. each car has run & just pick up the one which has run the least. Like in Johannesburg, South Africa, I found a Nissan Micra which had run just 4000 kms!!! It was practically new!
    but in New Jersey, all the cars they had had run over 30,000 kms. Needless to say, I got a flat later!

    f.1 Once you choose your car, they will enter the details in your contract & you're good to go. They don't care after they have handed you the keys & the car as to whether you know how to drive or you are going to damage anything. They're just doing their job & couldn't care less!

    f.2 But before you sign the contract finally, they will mark all the existing scratches on the car on their paper. See to it that *everything* is marked.

    g. Mileage limit:
    Some companies will limit the total number of kms. for which you can drive the car. I would avoid this as much as possible & get unlimited mileage as the extra km. charges are quite high.


    Driving rules & tips, I'll cover in the next post. I'll also cover returning the car in the post after that. But I just had 1 last tip:

    DO try & take a GPS. If you're driving in cities abroad (and not smaller places), without a GPS, this will be next to impossible (I've tried it ;)). I would recommend you to take any old Nokia phone which has free maps with voice guidance ... like the C5 or whatever you are comfortable with. Why Nokia? It's the ONLY phone which allows you to download their maps from here itself. You DO NOT need an internet connection in your target country now to use the GPS of your phone.
    I have used this in almost all my trips (except my initial 2 trips where I used paper maps) ... and it has worked like a charm everywhere.

    If you take a car with GPS, the amount you will pay will be more than a brand new nokia phone with GPS. The Nokia idea has another advantage: you can save all your addresses of your hotels etc. in your 'favourites' from here itself ... so that you don't waste time out there.

    (The newer Nokia Windows phones are not as friendly as the older ones & are a bit of a pain. Nokia 'Drive' is just not the same as the older Ovi Maps :()

    Hope all this helps.

    Oh and don't be put off by the length of this. It's all quite simple once you get the hang of it. DO drive once abroad ... you will be totally hooked ... like we (me & my wife) are :)

    - - - Updated - - -

    Hmm :-k. That makes sense. Ok ... maybe we should call it 'Hiring a car internationally but only where major car hire companies exist'.
    I'm refering to 'Hertz' etc. (Though truthfully, my experience of hiring from Hertz in Delhi & Chandigarh was NOTHING like what i've explained).

    Should it be 'Hiring a car internationally in developed countries'? But that would be too restrictive.

    Ideas?
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2013
  4. anupmathur

    anupmathur Super Moderator Staff Member

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    This is very useful, Manan.
    Just carry on; we'll figure out a title later and probably make this thread a 'sticky'. :)
     
  5. oriole12

    oriole12 Nature Lover

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    Very useful and interesting posts!
    AnupJi may seriously consider making this a Sticky.
    There are lots of misinformation about the subject of driving abroad. The Vienna Convention on Road Traffic 1968 lays down that all countries party to the Convention shall recognise Driver Licence issued by other members. A person in possession of DL from his country can normally drive in all countries that are parties to the Convention. However, IDP, which was also a part of the same Convention, is to facilitate driving in countries where a different alphabet is used either in the home country or in the visiting country.
    I have never obtained a IDP for any country, though I have been hiring and driving cars in the USA and UK frequently.
     
    Manan likes this.
  6. Manan

    Manan Well-Known Member

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    Re: Hiring a car internationally & driving tips

    Hmm. I didn't know about the Vienna Convention: This is interesting :)

    Yes U.S. and U.K. do not require an IDP. Actually, even Scandinavian countries & South Africa don't require an IDP.

    I did get an IDP done for Austria & Switzerland ... though frankly no one even looked at it.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Couple of more things:

    a. Booking (more info):
    a.1 So the name on the Booking, your Driving License, your Credit Card & your Passport must all match. (Oh I forgot. They will take a photocopy of your passport too). You don't need to get photocopies pre-done: They will do it all at the time of hiring.
    The important thing here is that you cannot book in your name & hand over your partner's credit card. Both have to be yours!

    a.2 The car bookings work on the system of 'over-booking' ... meaning they assume a certain number of no-shows and cancellations. If they have 10 economy cars, they will give booking to 14 mostly.

    a.3 To ensure that you get the car you want, be there on time. If possible, calculate & be there earlier by half an hour or so. (The trick I use is that I book it for a time later than when I will actually be there. For example if my flight reaches there by 6, I will make my booking for 8:30 or so even though I know that the immigration formalities won't take more than an hour)

    a.4 DO enter your flight no. in the booking. If you don't have it when you originally booked, you can always modify the booking later & add the flight no. This will ensure that in case your flight is delayed, they *will* keep your car for you!
    Usually their rules say that they will keep the car till 1 hour after your flight lands.

    a.5 If you're asking for the most common category (like economy / compact), and if they're out of those when you get there / you don't like the cars they have to offer, they could give you a free upgrade / paid upgrade.
    Re-check the *total* amount to be paid in case you do go in for an upgrade. Also don't forget that the car will guzzle more fuel if it's larger ... though it could be more comfortable.

    a.6 For more 'special' categories like SUVs / Vans etc., you *must* be there on time else you might luck-out! One thing you *can* do is that as a safety feature, hire a car of your required special category with *another* vendor a day later so in case you don't get it from here, you can pick up one the next day & your trip won't be ruined.
    (DO remember to cancel the ones you're not using well in time ... around 3 hours before you pick it up is usually ok. If you don't ... then it spoils it for everyone in the long run)

    a.7 Cars are hired in multiples of 24 hours. What this means is that if you pick it up at 10 a.m. on monday & return it at 10 a.m. on wednesday, they will count this as 2 days. This is NOT how it is in India ... where they would have counted this as 3 days.

    a.8 The longer you hire your car for, the cheaper it becomes. Most companys have a 'daily rate' and a separate much lower 'weekly rate'. Getting your car for longer than a week usually makes it a very attractive deal!

    a.9 Extra hours have a penalty. If you return it 2 hours late, you'll be charged. Some companies have a strict rule that if you return it even an hour later than contracted, they'll charge you for a full day. Better to return it on time.

    a.10 If you do multiple bookings with the same company, they will detect that & only keep 1 booking of yours. It WILL be the most expensive one! Do cancel all your older bookings!


    b. One-way rentals:
    Most people won't know that you can do one-way rentals ... sometimes for an extremely reasonable price. One-way means that you pick up the car from one location & return it to another ... sometimes in a different country!

    (I will give some examples here to give a better idea of how good an idea this can be. Sorry if the places sound a bit unfamiliar ...)

    For example, we flew into Austria & picked up our car in Vienna ... and over the course of the next 10 days, drove the length of their country & entered Switzerland ... and finally dropped off their car at the Friborg (in Switzerland). Our return flight was from Zurich. The OneWay rental cost us *less* extra money than train tickets from Vienna to Zurich!!! We have done this on numerous occasions in different countries.

    Sometimes OneWay rentals are prohibitive expensive but sometimes they don't cost anything at all! (For example in Sweden, they are *very* cost-friendly with this and don't charge you anything).
    We hired a car from Sweden instead of Norway as it's much cheaper to hire a car there ... We picked up the car from their north-most station (Kiruna), crossed over to Norway, drove the length of Norway & returned back to sweden *in the south* at Gothenburg to return their car back in Sweden itself. They charged the equivalent of Rs. 3000 for this service!!! The fuel cost itself for them to drive the car back from Gothenburg to Kiruna would exceed 10 times that! And I'm not even counting the driver costs!

    The huge advantage of OneWay rentals is that you don't have to retrace your steps.

    b.1 Usually only major car companies will give you this facility

    b.2 If you instinctively feel that if you return the car to the same place where you picked it, they would probably remember you / help you in some way, think again. You're hiring from a 'company' and not an 'individual'. You *won't* be seeing the people you hired from on returning as different employees take the 'drop' of your car! There is just *no* advantage of *not* taking this service :)

    b.3 Usually, costs shoot up the moment you take a OneWay across countries. It could work out cheaper if you can drive *back* in the same country as you originally hired ... if you can find a rental station that's closest to the border. It could be just a 2-3 hour drive but can save you a ton of money. What I mean is that plan on returning the car at another rental station ... but within the same country if at all possible.

    b.4 DO remember to add up the costs of public transport of ALL members in your group before you write off OneWays as being too expensive.


    c. Cross-border policies:
    If you plan on taking your car to other countries (happens all the time in Europe for example), you MUST read the fine-print during booking itself.

    c.1 Many companies charge a 'Cross-border fee'

    c.2 There may be restrictions as to which countries you can take your car into. For example, many companies in Germany allow you to take your car in all EU countries but not to Italy (due to car theft) ... or not in Eastern Europe

    c.3 In case you DO take the car in the 'restricted' country, no one will catch you (as they have no way of knowing where you are). But in case you get into *any* accident / your car is lost / stolen ... you lose ALL insurance.

    c.4 My recommendation is that you must inform them at the time of picking up the car which countries you are planning to visit. Not only will they ensure that your car is eligible, sometimes, there could be extra rules of that particular country which they might have to ensure in your car. For example, Germany needs 'winter tires' in their cars from Nov - March. If you had hired from another country like Austria which suppose don't have that rule, you could be fined heavily when in Germany!

    c.5 Many countries have a 'Vignette' system ... which is a 'Toll Sticker' for their freeways. Your car rental company might have cars which have that sticker if you inform them ... then you won't need to buy it yourself.

    Phew.

    I'll cover 'returning the car' in my next post. I'll cover driving rules which are alien to us & weird stuff that we must follow in these countries in the subsequent posts!

    Please add anything that I've missed / anything that I might be mistaken about in these posts freely!

    hope this helps.
     
  7. chicmagnet

    chicmagnet Member

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    What is the procedure to hire motorcycles? Do I need an IDP for the same? I don't have a local car license and only a two-wheeler license.
     
  8. Manan

    Manan Well-Known Member

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    Re: Hiring a car internationally & driving tips

    Hi. Which country do you want to hire the motor-cycle in?

    The rules for the IDP should remain the same logically (I have no experience in hiring a motorcycle abroad so this is just an educated guess)

    Best is to try booking the bike online first ... and then reading the fineprint.

    - - - Updated - - -

    a. Returning the car
    So there are 3 ways in which you can return the car.
    a.1 You can return the car & make the person there check the car completely. Make them sign their contract paper (specifically saying that the car is Ok without any damages. Their format for the same differs from company to company). This is the best way IMO. It does take a slight amount of time though.

    a.2 Someone will take the car but will not sign the paper saying 'no damages'. Will confirm the time of return & fuel level though. (This is not in your hands. Some people might refuse to sign the above stating that they don't have the authority to do so or something. Their formats are already in place)

    a.3 You are going to the drop station out-of-working-hours. They usually have a drop-box facility. You park your car in the correct place (it will be well marked) and drop the car key in their drop box. Usually there will be a security guard who will help you with this. Remember to check your car thoroughly before you drop the key of course. Once it's in the box & you realize that you forgot your wallet in the car, you won't be able to do much about it! This is my least preferred way ... but sometimes you can't help it.

    If you are more comfortable paying them in cash (suppose you don't know if the exchange rate they will charge on your credit card will be favorable enough or not for example), then now will be the time to do so. Many companies won't have the facility to accept cash / debit cards though.

    Apart from the fuel being full, you must take care of another thing. If the car is *exceptionally* dirty, they will charge you a cleaning charge. This IMO will only happen if you've dropped something dirty on their seat or if someone happened to puke in there or something. Even if your car is completely caked in mud from the outside, they won't charge you this amount as it'll get washed anyways.

    One thing you must remember: They will charge your credit card around 20-25 days after you return the car. Do keep all the paperwork with you at least till that much time: esp. the original booking email which lists the total amount.
    A small issue with this is that your card will have that much amount blocked. Suppose your credit limit is not very high, you could have a problem on your hands if you plan to hire another car in the same visit.
    If temporarily boosting your credit limit is difficult (Credit Card companies are a pain sometimes), the easiest thing to do is to make an advance payment on your card of the extra limit that you need!
     
  9. max_jeopardy

    max_jeopardy Member

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    Thanks Manan !!!! Really detailed information you have provided.

    I have hired cars in UK and US, Being on official trips I was eligible for Economy cars only, which are mostly B and C segment cars.

    You need to have your local Driving Licence in English Language and you can hire the car based on it. IDL is not required at all in these two countries.

    I really appreciate the Nokia GPS that you have recommended as till now I mostly relied on Point to Point maps using Google beforehand. Will try this next time. As Avis was my organisation's preferred partner, we normally get better deals on the Corporate CC's.

    I would add for non corporate rentals, Normally the rentals for Weekends will be high if you are hiring it for less than a week, if it is more than a week, you need to pay normal rates during weekends as well. Try to accommodate the rentals accordingly.

    Secondly it is our company Policy as well to always return the cars with tank full as the car rental companies charges surcharge on the fuel. it is recommended to always return the car with full tank and clean interiors.



    Cheers !!!

    SG
     
  10. Manan

    Manan Well-Known Member

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    Re: Hiring a car internationally & driving tips

    Now for the actual driving part :)

    I will need help here. Everyone's experiences would be different ... so I'm hoping that all of you who are experienced contribute freely to this list.

    In my opinion, it takes around 2 days max to get over driving on the wrong side of the road ;). You have to overcome your initial fear ... and be a bit more alert initially. But frankly once you're within traffic, it's just like driving anywhere else.

    What I want to discuss is the various rules which are different from here. Some logical ... some downright whacky & unimaginative!

    Disclaimer: None of the photos that are used here are taken by me. They have been taken from google ... the purpose is only to help people understand driving in foreign countries i.e. it's a non-profit purpose. If they are inadmissible / infringe on anyone's copyright, kindly let us know & we will remove them promptly.


    I request anyone having road marking photos etc. to contribute them here so we can slowly replace these. I will also try clicking roads from my next trip onwards.


    1. In most European countries, you have to keep your car headlights on even during daylight (I think this is valid for freeways in some countries and *everywhere* in others) Apparently, statistically it's proven that this causes less accidents. (Never mind that statistically speaking, statistics are usually wrong ;))

    2. The first difficult thing everyone will face ... is 'marked' roads. Lanes are marked ... a bit like this:
    (Simple lane rules)
    lanes.jpg

    Let's look at the left side of the freeway. Broken white lines means you can freely overtake. A continuous white line (the left-most lane marking) means you cannot normally go over that. The area after that ... the extra lane is called the Shoulder. You cannot normally drive on the Shoulder. If you do, you can be fined. BUT if you have a flat or a breakdown or a really valid reason to be there, you can.

    The Yellow line means you cannot cross that. Which means you cannot take a U turn from the middle if you want to go on the opposite side of the road, however tempted you might be. It would be a huge security risk & you will be fined very heavily!

    3.
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    There will be some special lanes / areas. Like this bicycle lane / bus lane ... the marking is pretty logical & obvious. You don't want to go on that.

    4.
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    Pay special attention to signs like this one. This is a 'Car Pool' lane. That means that you can ONLY go in that lane if there's a minimum number of people in your car. Like Seattle considers 2 people as 'car pooling' ... others consider 4. Their idea is to encourage you to have more people per car to reduce traffic by giving you special lanes.
    One rule of thumb is to be 'dumb' instead of 'smart'. What I mean is that if you see a huge empty lane where no one is going, remember there must be a good reason why they're leaving that lane empty. You don't want to find out the hard way why it's that way!

    5. Following lanes: This takes a little getting used to. When lanes are marked, there will be a certain amount of 'wasted' or non-drivable areas. But following these ensures overall speedier ... and of course a lot safer traffic.

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    You can cross over into the 'Right' lane ONLY at the dotted lines. The cyclist in the center will slow down at that point & look around. Btw cyclists have 'right of way' in most countries ... as do pedestrians and motorcycles (yes they have preference of motorcycles over cars)

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    All those zebras around ... are non-drivable areas! You can go over them ... but you can't halt on them.

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    6.
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    Special attention must be given to the 'Stop' signs. When you see one, you HAVE to stop completely (not a 'rolling' halt) even if there is no one around ... and then start again. This is one of the things which gives you fines very frequently (almost all my friends who live abroad have had to pay a fine for this reason)

    7. Observe the speed limit ... strictly. Most countries (except India) take their road safety *very* seriously. Their speed limits are quite logical ... if you drive at your 'natural' speed on many of these roads, you'll realize that you're driving at around the specified speed limits usually (not always of course) ... unlike India where they put in a huge safety-margin. It's better to respect this.
    When I was in the Lofoten Islands in Norway, where the speed limit is around 60 kmph on most roads, one of the other people staying in the hostel I was staying at was fined ... a whooping 1.25 lac for overspeeding!!! Apparently they charge appx. 20,000 Rs. for every 10kmph over-speed (he must have been going pretty fast).

    Also many many countries love to have hidden cops with speed guns ... and speed-cameras. The way speed cameras work ... is that a photograph of you & your car will be automatically taken if you go above the speed limit. This will now be routed through your car hire company to your Credit Card ... and you might just see a huge fine after 2 months of your returning home for over-speeding!!! If you refuse to pay it ... they will simply not allow you to enter their country again ;)

    Many GPS units will automatically warn you if you're driving above the speed limit. Keep this feature ON.

    8. Please please don't drink & drive. Not just abroad but in India too. Most countries have *very* strict rules about DUI (Driving Under Influence). You can be actually jailed for this. If you have to drink, see to it that another person in your car can drive instead of you (who should not be drinking too of course). (Don't forget that you should have taken him / her as an 'Additional Driver' during renting the car) Even 1 glass of wine is too much for a most countries. It's just not worth the risk. (Basically, take all those 'wine tasting' tours by cab)
     

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