Driving safe, smart and legal is key to enjoying your vacations in your home country and abroad. Be aware that just because you’re legal doesn’t mean you’re safe. You will have different responsibilities depending on where you get on the road, though a valid driver’s license is critical in every nation, either from your host country or your home country.
Seatbelts are compulsory to drive in Australia. Additionally, if you’re planning to be in country for longer than three months, you will need to get an International Driving Permit before you leave your home country, so plan carefully to avoid having to cut your travels short.
Australia has very high penalties for driving while impaired. In addition to guidance on intoxicants to avoid from Astor Legal, make sure that you do not
- drive while high or drunk
- get behind the wheel when you’re tired
- use your cell phone while driving
Finally, speeding is a criminal offense in Australia. Being an unfriendly driver, such as using loud music, burning rubber, tailgating, or racing, can get you jailed in Queensland. Smoking in your car when there are children present is illegal. Finally, excessive use of your horn can lead to a serious fine.
You can use a valid driver’s license from your country of origin for twelve months in Ireland. Top speed limits on major highways run about 60 miles per hour or just under 100 kilometers per hour. Once you get off the main highways, make sure you slow down.
Roads in rural island are markedly narrower than the highways, and the shoulders are often non-existent. If you come up on a vehicle, a farm implement or a herd of livestock, be patient and work around each other with care. Be aware that you must wear a seatbelt and if your fellow travelers don’t, you as driver are responsible for their behavior.
It is legal to drive in Ireland with a bit of alcohol in your system, but it’s not smart. To make sure you don’t do anything dangerous to yourself or others, plan to hire a driver for any night you’re going to head to the pub and over-indulge when you visit Ireland.
Finally, while it’s not a law it is a common challenge: Rental cars in Ireland are generally manual transmission, and the country roads can be quite hilly. If you don’t know how to handle a stick shift, make sure you reserve an automatic for your trip.
Mexico has several unspoken rules about driving through this country, and a few specific laws that are unique. If you’re in a wreck, you will need to prove that you can pay for the damages at the scene. Buying liability insurance in country is a requirement.
For safest travel through Mexico, drive during the day. As you travel, keep an eye out for topes, or speed bumps placed to slow down those who speed. A tope is much taller than a standard American speed bump, and there may be many of them in a series. Some are marked, and some are not. Watch the road in front of you, especially in tourist areas and residential neighborhoods.
A right-hand turn signal can mean a driver is turning right, or it could mean they’re waiting for a break and turning around across all the lanes. A left hand turn signal can mean a left turn, or it can mean the driver has pulled off to allow faster vehicles to pass.
The driving laws of your home country become habit after a time. When driving in a new country, stay vigilant.