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Understanding the real dangers of driving abroad
Reports of back-to-back fatalities involving Singaporeans driving overseas have hit the headlines once again.
The release of a new report shows that Singapore is ranked fourth among Asian countries whose drivers were involved in fatal and injury crashes in New Zealand.
In Malaysia each year there are said to be more than 30 Singaporean deaths on the roads.
As more Singaporeans embark on overseas driving holidays there is growing concern.
The team at Budget Direct Insurance has put together a comprehensive list of the dangers faced by Singaporean drivers overseas and what to look out for.
Hiring a car
When you pick up your hire car you will be asked if you are familiar with driving on their roads. If you aren’t, don’t be afraid to say so – it doesn’t mean you won’t be allowed to hire a car!
Talk through with the car company what some of the hazards or cultural norms are. There may be animals that frequent the side of the road at certain times of the day or weather conditions specific to that region. It is not unusual to see kangaroos, emus, wombats and even koalas near roads in Australia for instance and livestock may also be grazing by unfenced roads.
When you first get in your hire car, set off slowly and take your time to familiarise yourself with the car. Drive cautiously at first and get a good sense of conditions. If you have just come off an overnight flight, don’t plan a long journey that day.
You will be doing some city driving but it may be the country roads which are more unfamiliar to you.
Distances can be vast and journeys long, so make sure you take breaks and change drivers. Australian roads tend to have stop areas every 80-100 kilometres and picnic areas and laybys are common in NZ too, so make sure you use them! Use an app like Pit Stop Planner to plan your rests.
Many roads can be winding with dramatic drops, like the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia or the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. Take your time navigating these and if you have a driver in a hurry on your tail, pull over and let them go.
Conditions can seem very different at night. In the countryside always use your high beam lights in the dark when there are no other vehicles around, although if you come across any wildlife this could daze them and cause them not to move. Slow down and sound your horn to chase them off.
Cold weather and snow present their own difficulties and your experience of driving in these conditions may be very limited. Please take time to read the Budget Direct Insurance guide to navigating the white stuff.
Other hazards like dirt on the road, floods and sudden rain present their own difficulties and are covered in full detail here in one of our earlier blogs.
In the city, roundabouts are more common than in Singapore. Remember to give way to the right and use your indicators correctly. Why aren’t some of us great at using roundabouts? We just aren’t that familiar with them. Read more in our Budget Direct Insurance roundabout blog!
Speed limit signs in other countries are on the side of the road, usually with a red ring around the number. Speed is measured in kilometres per hour in many countries. Be aware of the national speed limit. For instance the open road in New Zealand and Australia is 100km/h, except in Western Australia and the Northern Territory where it is 110km/h.
Speeding is taken very seriously and cameras can and will catch you out, so stick to the speed limits. Don’t drink and drive, if you are stopped you will be asked to take a breathalyzer test.
It’s usual to thank other drivers by raising your hand when they let you pass or pull out. Being kiasu won’t go down well in countries like Australia and New Zealand. You may have to be more assertive while city driving but on country roads some patience and courtesy go a long way. If you get struck behind a tractor or farm vehicle they usually pull over after a while and let the traffic go. Tailgating is also dangerous and annoying in any country!
Make sure you know the emergency numbers.and pop the contacts in your phone. Remember to hide all your valuables from view every time you leave the car and park in a safe place both in the day and especially at night. Ask a local or the receptionist at your hotel if you are unsure where is safe. In Singapore we can be complacent about such safety issues.
Don’t leave home without it!
Wherever you go, whatever you do, it’s vital to have good car, motorcycle and travel cover.
Check out Budget Direct Insurance for your best deal