Driving can be a stressful experience in your own hometown, on roads and highways that you’re use to, so imagine driving in a foreign country, one completely different than your own. Places in which you’re not aware of the rules and regulations, driving conditions, traffic laws and drivers’ attitudes and aggression levels. These factors make driving more of a nightmare than a necessity.
It’s more than just having the steering wheel on the other side of the car and having to drive on the opposite side of the road. People in Belgium waste 83 hours a year stuck in traffic jams, while people in Korea don’t respect the road lines. The icy roads in Russia lead to scary accidents, and the lack of seat-belt usage in Poland causes many fatalities.
It’s best to be prepared and in the know before trying to drive in unknown territory. So before you plan your next road trip and pick up your International Driver’s License, familiarize yourself with the driving conditions of your next vacation spot and check out this list of 10 of the worst countries to drive in.
Belgium is notorious for having the worst traffic in all of Europe. Drivers waste around 83 hours a year stuck in traffic jams. Many people in the city live too far from work, and those who live close enough to take public transportation choose not to. They have no reason to utilize other ways to get to work because employers in Belgium pay less tax by giving their employees a car instead of a raise or a bonus, which means a lot of vehicles out on the roads.
Even though driving in Belgium is frustrating, people are still encouraged to drive, seeing as how cheap parking is. You won’t have to look too hard to find a parking spot either. Another reason for the crazy traffic in Belgium is that the road network in Belgium is poorly designed, something the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development) is currently working on improving.
9. Czech Republic
When visiting the Czech Republic, it’s best to be extremely cautious on their dangerous roads. Because the driving speeds are so much higher than in North America, there is a high rate of accidents and even fatalities. The roads also have bumpy surfaces and inconsistent lane markings.
The driving laws in the Czech Republic are odd, they require you to always have specific items in your car at all times; a first aid kit, a second pair of prescription glasses if you wear glasses, a set of spare light bulbs for your headlights, and a reflective safety jacket that has to be green. This law applies to foreign travelers as well, even if their cars were bought and registered in other countries. You also need to have your headlights on, day or night. In towns, the cobblestone streets are difficult to maneuver, especially when coated in ice in the winter months.
8. United States
Although it’s a huge country and difficult to generalize about its road conditions, overall the United States is an extremely dangerous place to drive in. Upwards of fifty percent of the fatal accidents in the country are caused by poorly designed highways and road-related conditions. This causes more crashes than drunk driving, speeding, and not wearing a seat belt, combined.
Every year, the United States counts 22,000 deaths because of these ill-designed roads and bad driving conditions. This costs the country around $217.5 billion. In total, there are 42,000 fatalities due to traffic accidents. There are many organizations that focus primarily on acquiring funding to create better roads for all the residents of the United States through reconstruction and renovation. Be aware on your next road trip around the U.S. and familiarize yourself with the roads that you will be travelling.
Greece has a mix of newly built highways and old road systems. The latter consist of paved paths and dirt roads in various stages of repair, causing unpredictable driving conditions throughout the country. The variation of speeds on roads cause the majority of the accidents in the country where drivers are not aware of others around them and never know what speed is appropriate. This miscommunication and aggression causes many fender benders.
Greek drivers have no regard for the other vehicles that surround them, and driving in Greece as a foreigner can be intimidating and overwhelming. Road signs are no help either, often contradicting each other or hard to comprehend, especially if you don’t understand the language. If you do plan on driving in this country, be wary of winding roads on mountainsides and the fact that most locals drive 40-50 km/hour over the speed limit.
6. South Korea
If you’re planning on taking a trip to South Korea, be prepared for scary driving conditions. Road laws are looked upon as suggestions rather than requirements, and Koreans are so keen on getting where they need to go that they even drive on sidewalks, at forceful speeds. When driving in South Korea, you have to be aware that the other vehicles around you won’t stick to signs or even the lines painted on the roads and anticipate erratic behaviour. The traffic in this country is like a very dangerous game of Tetris. Not only is the driving in South Korea terrifying for other people on the roads, it’s also scary for pedestrians. It’s not uncommon to see fatalities lying on the side of the roads. It’s a shocking environment for foreigners.
Even crossing the street is dangerous in Hungary, pedestrian fatalities are extremely common in this country. Cars refuse to stop and as a result there are many accidents and many deaths. Most of the time, accidents in Hungary involve only one vehicle, a car going so fast that it flipped over on itself, crashed into something (or someone), or took a corner too quickly. If you’re driving in Hungary be sure to buckle your seat belt, something a lot of Hungarians choose not to do. Even famous politicians that have infamously decided not to wear their seat belts. This obviously result is severe injuries and even deaths that can be easily avoided. Be sure to be aware of keeping an appropriate speed, buckling up, and being cautious of pedestrians and other drivers around you if you ever plan on cruising around Hungary.
Tourists have a difficult time driving in Turkey because it is so different from other countries. Most people in Turkey don’t seem to take driving seriously, blasting their music and driving as fast as possible with little care of surrounding vehicles. With around a million accidents recorded last year, it’s safe to assume that you should expect reckless drivers while vacationing in Turkey.
In rural areas, the roads can be very decrepit and difficult to drive on, lined with potholes and bumps. Getting a license to drive in Turkey when you come from another country is almost impossible, and police officers are extremely wary of International Driving Permits. The last thing you would want to happen on vacation is to get thrown in jail for a car accident you didn’t even cause.
With some of the worst road conditions in the world and one of the highest rates of cars stolen, so it’s safe to say you wouldn’t dare drive in Poland. There are an over abundance of vehicles and very few decent roads. Narrow, dark, and usually under ongoing construction, Polish roads are very dangerous, especially considering cars have to share space with cyclists, pedestrians, transport trucks, and horse-drawn vehicles. Because of this array of different vehicles, each going at varying speeds, there is a lot of confusion on the roads. Every year, there are 5,000 reported deaths due to traffic accidents in Poland. The country is currently working on this issue, marking areas that see a lot of accidents with danger and caution signs, hoping to grasp the attention of drivers and get them to be more careful on the roads.
The driving conditions in Slovakia use to be a lot better than they are now. Road conditions suffer because of bad weather, low standards of driving, and angry drivers. With around 300 deaths per year in Slovakia, it’s best to take extreme caution if you ever plan on driving in this country. Especially in winter, because of snow and ice on the roads, you have to have drive with extra attention and care. The Slovakian government also recommends driving with a shovel in your trunk just in case you get stuck on the snowy roads. The tolerance for drinking and driving is at zero and any trace of booze in your system can result in being immediately arrested and thrown into jail. The people of Slovakia are trying to reduce the number of car accidents in their country, reducing the speed limit to 50 km/h in towns.
Summer in Russia is the only time that the roads are considered relatively safe. The rain in the spring causes extreme sleet on the roads, the frost in the fall makes things slippery, and the winter months bring on ice and snow that makes driving in this country dangerous. So dangerous in fact, that Russia tops every Bad Driving or Bad Drivers lists out there. Road conditions, as well as constant traffic jams, create a stressful driving experience in Russia. Traffic jams can last for hours, and it’s recommended that you prepare to take 2-3 hours to get to where you need to go. And that’s just in the summer. A quick trip to grab a coffee might take you 5-plus hours. It’s a wonder that anyone in Russia ever leaves his or her home. Overpopulation and a corrupted government are also factors that cause extreme wariness for the average driver, with too many cars and not enough toll roads.
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