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Driving while Abroad

Students are not permitted to operate motor vehicles during program-sponsored activities or events. We also discourage students from driving during personal travel while on their programs, as they may be unaware of local driving conventions, traffic laws, and road safety concerns. 

Students traveling abroad, especially in developing countries, are often unprepared for the road conditions they encounter. They leave the U.S. for destinations where they are exposed to narrow, winding, deteriorated roads; hairpin curves with no guardrails; inadequate signs, signals, and lighting; and byways in which motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and livestock can compete for space. In some countries aggressive or reckless driving, disregard for traffic laws and pedestrian safety, and motorists driving while intoxicated also pose serious risks. Buses, trucks, and vans may be poorly maintained and dangerously overloaded. Bus drivers may have received little or no training. Medical rescue staff and equipment may be inadequate. 

Even in many more-developed countries, rates of serious accidents and highway fatalities are dramatically higher than in the U.S. Drivers may be more aggressive, and passing and speeding more common than those driving practices found in the United States. Students studying in areas with relatively safe roads may travel to other countries with poor safety records. 

While we strongly recommend that you do not drive while abroad, should you choose to do so, you may need a special driving permit/license, a road permit, or both in order to drive in certain countries. Please check the requirements of your host country before operating a motor vehicle of any type. More information about international driving permits and road safety can be found on the U.S. Department of State’s website.  

In addition to driving permits/licenses, if you should choose to operate a vehicle during personal travel while abroad, you will also need to make sure that you have the proper insurance that will adequately cover your activities. Please be aware that the insurance plan you have in the United States will generally not cover you while abroad. 

Road safety information can be acquired for individual countries by contacting the Association for Safe International Road Travel. Additional road safety and emergency contact information may be found on the individual country Consular Information Sheets available from the U.S. Department of State.