Approximately 50% of medical evacuations back to the United States each year involve Americans who are injured abroad in car accidents. That information comes from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, which also says that car accidents are the leading cause of fatality among American travellers abroad, killing more Americans every year abroad than illness.
However, while travelers often focus heavily on vaccinations and medications to keep themselves safe, very few vacationers pay close attention to the fact that if they are involved in an accident overseas, the trauma may be compounded by the fact that they are in a foreign, sometimes developing, country.
If you are vacationing in a developing country, it is important to understand that not all of these destinations will have laws that require you to wear a seat belt while driving, or place your children in car seats. Regardless of whether the country’s laws require you to do so, you should always wear a seatbelt while riding in a car, and use approved car seats for your children as well.Use car seats and booster seats just as you would back home.
Avoid driving under the influence of alcohol, and avoid distracted driving at all costs. Switch off your cell phone when you drive, and don’t ride in a taxi, buss or other form of public transportation if the driver is engaging in any such activity.
Many American travelers abroad like to rent motorcycles for a sight-seeing ride in the city or countryside.While the thought of riding a motorcycle in a foreign land may seem exciting and fun, the fact is that motorcycle safety in other countries may be a low priority item.Avoid riding a motorcycle, and if you do, wear a helmet while you ride.
Perhaps most importantly, learn the local traffic laws before you decide to rent a car, and avoid driving at night as much as possible. Often, accidents are caused because motorists get carried away with the holiday spirit, and engage in behaviors like speeding that they would avoid back home.
If you choose to walk to your destinations, make sure that you are paying attention to the traffic flow, as well as pedestrians around you.Not all countries have a pedestrian safety system that includes marked and designated crosswalks. When in doubt, use the proven and time-tested road crossing techniques of “look left, then right, and left again before crossing the road” and “use your eyes, ears, and then cross the street.”
While you can’t control the driving behavior of other motorists around you, you can take steps to reduce your risk of being injured in an accident. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also estimates that the cost of a medical evacuation back to the United States run close to $ 100,000.