Despite the fact that vehicles are safer than ever before — with features like seat belts, air bags and stability control — there are still thousands of fatalities each year caused by accidents on the road.
Driving laws in foreign countries often are different from you may be used to in your home country. When driving internationally, it’s important to really understand the rules and regulations of each country.
Even if you memorize all the driving laws in other countries, the traffic patterns, unfamiliar roads and hazardous drivers can still make you more prone to accidents.
According to a recent study by the Transportation Research Initiative at the University of Michigan, deaths in fatal car crashes outside of the U.S. register at 18 for every 100,000 vehicles on the road.
For those planning on driving in foreign countries, here’s a list of some of the risks in 10 of the most dangerous countries to drive.
Russia: If you’re going to drive in Russia, be prepared for some challenges, as driving through the icy tundra resulted in more than 200,000 accidents and 28,000 deaths last year. Poor road conditions and carelessness by drivers both play a role in the shockingly high numbers. Russia is also known for rising roadside fights, so be careful if you do get into an accident that you aren’t jumped when you get out of your damaged vehicle.
Namibia: The Southwest African country is widely considered the worst place to drive in the world, averaging 45 deaths for every 100,000 on the road. With hazardous gravel and sand roads and an unfamiliar landscape, foreign drivers would be wise to drive slowly and stick to the main roads, avoiding short cuts. The country’s roads also have numerous corrugated tracks, 5-10 cm deep, which can do loads of damage to a vehicle driving over them. According to Namibia-travel.net, many inexperienced drivers get too far to the edge on the slightly arched gravel roads, and then turn the steering wheel abruptly, resulting in a rollover or accident.
Thailand: With 44 deaths per 100,000 drivers, Thailand ranks among one of the worst places to drive because of challenging and dangerous road conditions. In fact, the University of Michigan study ranks it as No. 2 behind Namibia. Last year, 74 percent of all driving fatalities in the country were on road bikes. The country does very little to maintain its roads and there is an abundance of o reckless drivers and intoxicated drivers, as well.
Hungary: Speed limits are commonly not followed by Hungarians, so be wary. Roads vary in quality, with minor and some major roads in poor quality, so drive with caution. Hungary also has a law where you must yield to the person on your right and that is often the cause of accidents with foreign drivers. The government also has strict traffic laws and those who get into accidents can face up to five years in prison.
Libya: According to public security authorities, there were more than 600 deaths, 2,000 serious injuries and almost 3,000 minor injuries resulting in hospital stays that resulted from car accidents in Libya last year. In fact, traffic deaths were the third-leading cause of mortality in Libya. The country’s civil unrest plus rampant substance abuse by many drivers makes it one of the scariest places for international drivers to hit the roads. Plus, heavy sands are known to pop up unexpectedly and add to the dangerous conditions.
Iran: Alarmingly, close to 20,000 people die from vehicle accidents each year in Iran, according to Iranian official statistics. The U.S. State Department encourages tourists to avoid driving altogether. According to the tourism agency, Let’s Go Iran, Iranian drivers tend to overtake along pavements and any section of the road where there is space, making things perilous for other drivers. The main problem is country roads are meant for low-speed driving, and many drivers do not take that into consideration. Another reason is that there is lack of road signs in some areas.
Sudan: Another country that the Michigan study warns about when driving internationally is Sudan, where 36 deaths per 100,000 people occur each year, which averages about three deaths a day. A chief problem in the country is the reported amount of bribery that goes on, so people get licenses without knowing how to drive. There are also numerous dust storms, lack of lighting, and poorly maintained roads — which all exasperate the problem.
Swaziland: In 2014, the U.S. State Department classified Swaziland as a critical threat crime post, with reckless drivers adding to the danger. In 2014, the country had 36 deaths per 100,000 drivers. Aside from traffic moving on the opposite side of the road as the U.S., extreme weather such as heavy fog and rain, livestock crowding the streets, and negligence to traffic laws adds to the chaos.
Venezuela: Car jackings happen regularly and there are many negligent drivers in Venezuela, according to VirtualTourist.com. The country also hosts a laundry list of road hazards including poorly maintained roads, bad signage, and many drivers who don’t comply with the laws. If you need drive in Venezuela, be vigilant and drive defensively.
The Congo: The Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade describes the Congo as being home to aggressive driving practices and low driving standards. Combined with many military and police roadblocks throughout the country, plus criminal groups who use roadblocks to rob travelers, driving in the Congo can be very dangerous. The muddy potholed roads add to the poor driving conditions.
If you’re going to drive in a foreign country, be sure to brush up on the road rules and traffic laws. Be prepared for the hazards that can exist and it’s important to have borderless coverage. In addition to physical damage and third party liability, make sure you are covered against political violence and other catastrophes.