Culture & Travel

1 March 2024

While traffic rules generally apply universally, there may be variations specific to each country. Especially for travelers going abroad, it's crucial to understand these rules when renting a car overseas. Everyone has the right to drive freely, smoothly, and, most importantly, safely without encountering accidents or penalties. One of the primary concerns for travelers abroad, particularly those planning to rent a car, is understanding the local traffic regulations. In this guide, we've compiled essential traffic rules that travelers should know to ensure a pleasant and safe experience driving in a foreign country.

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Traffic rules can vary across European countries, so it's important to address them individually.

Germany: Known for its stringent regulations and hefty fines, Germany imposes a speed limit of typically 130 km/h on highways, though it may vary in certain regions, sometimes dropping to 120 km/h or lower. Pedestrians always have the right of way at intersections and crosswalks. Seat belts are mandatory for all vehicle occupants, and children under 1.50 meters tall must use a child seat. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.5 promil.

France: In France, urban roads have a speed limit of 50 km/h, while residential areas have a limit of 30 km/h. Highways usually have a speed limit of 130 km/h or lower. Vehicles approaching from the right and trams always have priority. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.5 promil. It's essential to ensure both vehicle inspection and insurance are up to date. Toll payments can be made using cash or credit cards at automated systems.

Italy: The speed limit on motorways is 130 km/h, but it may drop to 100 km/h in certain areas. The left lane is designated for overtaking on multi-lane roads. Pedestrians, trams, and buses always have the right of way. Due to the prevalence of motorcycles and bicycles, drivers should exercise caution.

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Spain: Spanish highways typically have a speed limit of 130 km/h. Vehicles approaching from the right, as well as trams and pedestrians, must be given priority. Seat belts are mandatory for all occupants, including children, who must also use appropriate child seats. It's prohibited to use a phone while driving, and vehicles must have up-to-date insurance and inspection. Cycling is common in Spain, so cyclists should be carefully observed.

England: In the UK, the speed limit on highways is 70 mph, while it's 30 mph on city roads and 20 mph in residential areas. Vehicles approaching from the left have priority. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.8 promil. On multi-lane roads, the left lane is designated for overtaking. Seat belts are compulsory for all passengers.

Japan: Traffic in Japan moves on the left side, and all passengers must wear seat belts. The speed limit on highways is usually 100 km/h. Vehicles approaching from the right must yield, and pedestrians always have priority at intersections and crosswalks. Japan has a zero-tolerance policy for drunk driving and prohibits phone usage while driving, improper parking, and leaving vehicles in unauthorized areas.

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Thailand: In Thailand, where motorcycle usage is widespread, wearing a helmet is mandatory, and drivers must wear a shirt or t-shirt while driving. Speed limits are 120 km/h on highways, 80 km/h on urban roads, and 60 km/h in residential areas. Pedestrians have priority at intersections and crosswalks. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.5 promil. It's worth noting that traffic fines are steep in Thailand, where traffic moves on the left side.

China: In China, one of the most populous countries globally, the city speed limit is 80 km/h. On highways, you can go up to 120 km/h, while in residential areas, it's just 30 km/h. Drinking alcohol while driving is strictly prohibited, with the legal limit set at 0.2 promil. Given the considerable number of cyclists, it's essential to watch out for them on the road. Maneuvering through traffic can be challenging due to congestion.

India: India stands out as one of the countries with the most chaotic traffic. Vigilance is crucial when driving here. Typically, the highway speed limit is 100 km/h. Pedestrians always have the right of way at intersections and crosswalks, and vehicles approaching from the right get priority. All vehicle occupants, including children, must wear seat belts. Using a cell phone while driving incurs a hefty fine. Be prepared for encounters with free-roaming animals like cows or calves.

America: Traffic regulations in the USA can vary between states. Generally, highways have speed limits of 70-80 mph. Vehicles from the right and emergency vehicles always have the right of way. The legal blood alcohol concentration limit typically stands at 0.08 promil, though it varies by state. Credit cards are accepted in the automated toll system. Given the abundance of cyclists and motorized vehicles, driving in the USA requires caution. Traffic fines vary across states but are generally steep.

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