Nothing can be more thrilling than exploring a foreign land. And if it’s a road trip, the journey becomes that much more exciting. However, to have fun responsibly and to remain safe, it’s important to have a fundamental knowledge of local dos and don’ts of the country you’re in.
Driving in a foreign land also means that you get to drive your favourite international car models that may or may not be available in India. Almost all car leasing or rental companies offer Ford models for self-driving holidays.
So hop into a Ford EcoSport, Fiesta ST, Focus or a Mustang, and follow these basic tips to acquaint yourself with basic dos and don’ts to make your road trip truly memorable.
Apply for an IDP
Before you think of indulging your Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara dreams, take a good look at the driving rules in the destination country. Your Indian driver’s license alone may not be enough. Along with it, you will often require an IDP or International Driving Permit.
Whether it’s a friend’s car or a rental vehicle, you’ll need an IDP that translates your original driving license into multiple languages.
Know the Law
Before getting behind the wheel in a foreign country, it is mandatory to understand its traffic norms. For instance, in Germany, there is no speed limit on Autobahns (controlled-access highway system) except in some areas. In France, on the other hand, highways have a lower speed limit of 68mph and an upper limit of 80mph. The norms also differ from town to town and depend on the weather. Knowing the local road rules will keep you safe and help you avoid any sticky situations with the local police.
Reading up about important conversion and local metric system to ensure you can calculate speed limits, know the exact distance of your journey or how much fuel to buy. Here are some simple ones for your reference:
1 Mile = 1.6 Kilometer
1 Gallon = 3.78 Liters
Automatic vs. Manual Transmission
If you are driving in Europe or the Americas, chances are that your car would be automatic. While you may be used to driving a manual transmission (stick shift) cars in India, it is important to know the basics of automatic cars before you hop into your ride.
Cars with automatic transmission do not have a clutch pedal and you don’t need to use both your feet to drive. Drivers who are new to automatic cars often make this common mistake of using both feet, which can result in sudden acceleration or panic braking. Make sure you have put your left feet to rest on a dead paddle and don’t lift it while driving to avoid such situations.
It is advisable to practice in an automatic if you aren’t used to them before you head out for your international road trip. Ford offers an automatic transmission on Figo, Endeavour, EcoSport & Aspire in India and chances are that one of your friends or family members will have one. Brush up your skills beforehand and enjoy a glitch-free drive abroad!
Right vs. Left Side Driving
It is one thing to drive a car with different transmission modes. But changing sides is a whole new ballgame. Depending on the country, you may have to switch sides. For instance, traffic in Hong Kong and Australia keeps to the left, while in Germany, the US and Canada you drive on the right.
Since India drives on the left side of the road, changing over might be a difficult task. Not everyone has the ability to make a smooth switch. But that should not stop you from planning a perfect driving getaway. Drive on neighbourhood roads at a controlled speed for practice and hit the speeding freeways only when you are confident. Having a local friend or a navigator who can ensure you don’t make any mistakes will be beneficial too.
Plan Your Journey
Driving on foreign roads for the first time can be daunting. You don’t want to lose your way and put your plan in a disarray because of one bad turn. To stay trouble-free, always plan your route and carry a map before heading out.
Make sure your car has inbuilt Picking a Ford car will ensure you never miss a turn. The SYNC 3 system on Ford cars is Apple CarPlay & Android Auto compatible and mirrors maps from your phones to ease navigation so that you can easily locate restaurants, ATMs or other landmarks.
Insure Your Drive
If you are planning a cross country drive in your own car, make sure your car is insured against damages. The domestic auto cover may not always be valid outside the country, so check with your agent and get a cover that is mandatory in the country you are going to drive in.
If you are driving a rental car, make sure you have checked all papers and their validity.
With these tips in mind, you can steer away from trouble and enjoy a comfortable drive while abroad. Bon voyage and stay safe!