Road safety is not something that travelers necessarily think about in planning their experiences abroad, but in fact, traffic accidents are a leading cause of death of Americans abroad, particularly for college students. Contrary to popular belief, 85% of fatal crashes occur in industrialized countries, according to the Association of Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT). Travelers can minimize their risk by assessing the road culture in travel areas and implementing safety precautions.
Road travel in some developing countries poses additional road risks. Public transportation in some areas may consist of overcrowded, overweight, and top-heavy minivans or buses. Taxicabs may not appear to be in good condition, and drivers may or may not be licensed. Sidewalks may or may not be lit, or exist at all. In these cases, follow the advice of the on-site staff, program provider, travel agent, or other responsible party administering your travel experience. They can teach you how to minimize your risk when selecting various modes of transportation.
For more information about safe international road travel, visit the Association for Safe International Road Travel website.
General Transportation Tips
- Select the safest form of transportation in your area
- Avoid late-night road travel in countries with poor safety records and/or mountainous terrain
- Understand how seasonal hazards affect road conditions
- Know the dates of local holidays (when road accident rates rise)
Pedestrian Safety Tips
- Be aware of traffic patterns in your area (they may be very different from those in the U.S.)
- Be especially alert at intersections
- Wear reflective clothing if jogging at dusk or dawn (especially in locales where jogging may be uncommon)
- Do not walk where you cannot easily be seen
- Remember that most road fatalities are pedestrians
- Avoid hitchhiking
Motorized Vehicle Passenger Tips
- Avoid riding with a driver who appears intoxicated, irrational, or over-tired
- Always ride in the back seat of a taxi cab
- Wear seat belts whenever possible
Motorized Vehicle Rental - DON'T!
We understand that many travelers are tempted to rent cars, mopeds, or motorbikes during their time abroad, but often do so without regard to the risks of driving in a country whose rules of the road are unfamiliar. However economical or entertaining this may seem, USC strongly recommends against renting any kind of motorized vehicle abroad.
Do not assume that rideshare services are legal and safe in your destination. It is advised that travelers perform some research prior to departure to learn about what types of transport options are the most secure. If rideshares are widely used, travelers should not ride in a vehicle that picks up other passengers. It is also important to make sure the vehicle you are getting into is the car you hailed, and not an imposter. Make sure the car description and license number match those of the car provided in the app. Always confirm that the driver matches the picture provided in the app. Never divulge personal information to the driver. If available, travelers should use the "share my trip" portion of the rideshare app. Also be aware of any SOS or emergency features available through the app.