How to Host Your Own Badass Bariloche Bovine Bonanza

How to Host Your Own Badass Bariloche Bovine Bonanza

Start: February 28, Bariloche{jcomments lock}Finish: March 4, BarilocheNumber of Overlanders Gathered: 24Pounds of Meat...

Forks in the Road: Recipes from Overlanding the Pan-American Highway

Forks in the Road: Recipes from Overlanding the Pan-American Highway

{jcomments lock}It's our pleasure to finally introduce our latest work, Forks in the Road:...

Introducing iOverlander: Find & Share your Next Destination

Introducing iOverlander: Find & Share your Next Destination

Hi friends. It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? I know you’re wondering what we’ve...

Budget Recaps

Budget Recaps

The links below will take you to our detailed per-country budget reports. We’ve broken...

Expedition Tongs

Expedition Tongs

{jcomments lock}About 10 years ago I bought a pair of typical South African tongs for...

Download our Free ebook: Overlanding Mexico & Central America

Download our Free ebook: Overlanding Mexico & Central America

{jcomments lock}At long last, our crowning achievement is finished after several days of nonstop...

Carretera Austral: Cerro Castillo to Villa O'Higgins

Carretera Austral: Cerro Castillo to Villa O'Higgins

Start: January 4, Parque Nacional Cerro Castillo{jcomments lock}Finish: January 15, Puerto GuadalFish Caught and...

  • How to Host Your Own Badass Bariloche Bovine Bonanza

    How to Host Your Own Badass Bariloche Bovine Bonanza

  • Forks in the Road: Recipes from Overlanding the Pan-American Highway

    Forks in the Road: Recipes from Overlanding the Pan-American Highway

  • Introducing iOverlander: Find & Share your Next Destination

    Introducing iOverlander: Find & Share your Next Destination

  • Budget Recaps

    Budget Recaps

  • Expedition Tongs

    Expedition Tongs

  • Download our Free ebook: Overlanding Mexico & Central America

    Download our Free ebook: Overlanding Mexico & Central America

  • Carretera Austral: Cerro Castillo to Villa O'Higgins

    Carretera Austral: Cerro Castillo to Villa O'Higgins

Blue, Jessica, Kobus and Jared

Technology gives us the ability to work remotely. Curiosity, wonder and boredom drive us to the far reaches of the world. Put the two together and you have Life Remotely.

We've spent the past fifteen years traveling and working around the world. In October of 2011 we left our home in Seattle and headed south. Our goal: drive to Patagonia and spend the night in Antarctica. From there, who knows.

Read more about us.

 

forks in the road the cookbook

tongs.liferemotely.com

Download the Free ebook now!

Buy us a beer

  1. Quick facts
  • Total days on the road: 586
  • Currently in: USA
  • Miles Driven: 36821
  • Countries Visited: 17
  • Days Camping: 389
  • Days Indoors: 202

   See all the stats here!

  1. Get Updates via Email

Delivered by FeedBurner

The Hazards of Driving Unknown Roads

Written by Kobus on March 20, 2011

Terrible road conditions in MozambiqueRoad conditions and obstacles in underdeveloped countries are frustrating, to say the least. Drivers accustomed to U.S. or European roads can find many situations terrifyingly dangerous.

Many destinations have roads that are seldom marked or in a state of complete disrepair. Traffic is a maze of sketchy public transportation, motorcycles, donkey carts, pedestrians and animals of all shapes and sizes. The rules of the road may be wildly different than your home country. In many places traffic laws are completely ignored. Making sense of the chaos is something even locals find difficult.

Below are a few pointers to help you avoid common driving hazards, learned from our experience of driving tens of thousands of miles in foreign countries.

Driving at Night

night drivingThe best advice for driving on unknown roads is to avoid driving at night, at all costs. Roads probably aren’t lit, and the normal dangers of driving during the day are exponentially greater. Obstacles like pot holes, speed bumps, missing manhole covers and ice are much more difficult to spot. Street signs all but disappear. Highway lanes merge abruptly and bridges narrow to a single lane without warning. Telephone poles are set several feet into the road and trees sprout from the pavement.

Powerful headlights and high beams help. At the same time oncoming traffic may be blinding because other drivers don’t bother lowering their high beams.

Take our advice and don’t drive at night, especially if road conditions are poor, you are tired or have no experience driving the route. Take a taxi. Plan to stop early. Do everything you can to avoid the hazards of a dark road. If you have no choice, drive slow, take your time and be well rested!

Pedestrians and Animals

Speed limitsRural and urban roads that run through town are often the center of activity. They are usually the only way to get from one end of town to the other. Many do not have the luxury of sidewalks or large shoulders. Buildings are located close to the road and pedestrians and animals have no choice but to share the road with motorized vehicles.

Animals are the most unpredictable obstacle of all. They give you little warning before crossing the road. Accidents can happen any time of the day but are more likely from dusk to dawn. Animals are easily spooked and can jump in front of an approaching vehicle and then freeze in the headlights. They may also decide to sleep in roads after darkness falls, while the pavement still warm from the day’s sun. The best tip for avoiding animals at night is to watch for the reflection of your lights in their eyes.

Speed bumps

Speed bumps, speed humps, rumble strips or topes, call them what you will. They are the cheapest and most convenient way to ensure drivers do not exceed the speed limit.

Most speed bumps probably won’t be painted, and you’ll be lucky if there’s a warning sign. The only clue to their existence are skid marks or another driver slowing down in front of you.

In Tanzania, speed bumps were placed at the entrance and exit of every little town. We found them in sets of three, an axle-shattering mountain sandwiched between two smaller bumps.

Slow down when approaching a town and pay attention to the way other drivers handle the road ahead of you. Most importantly, watch the road. In our experience, hitting a speed bump you don’t see will improve your observation skills quite a bit.

PotholesPotholes

The most common road hazards encountered are potholes. Potholes are only easy to spot in ideal weather conditions. When it is raining, what looks like a puddle may actually be a hole big enough to swallow a wheel.

On wet dirt roads, follow the tracks in the mud. Trust that experienced drivers before you knew how to avoid the potholes.

Road closed sign in Namibia

Road Signs

Study road signs before you enter a country and make sure you know the language equivalent of important signs, like “Do Not Enter” or “Stop”. In most countries, signs will be less prevalent than you’re used to. They may also be difficult to read at night, lacking a reflective coating.

Boulders across roadIn Namibia we found that local road crews dropped boulders across a road that was soon to be paved. Probably a more effective way of keeping traffic of the road than a “Do Not Enter” sign.

Oddly placed branches lying partly in the road may be a sign of a obstacle ahead. A poor man’s warning triangle or road flare. Skid marks are also dead give away for upcoming trouble.

Speed Limits

Pay attention to speed limits and don’t assume there will be a sign. Ask police or other locals for general guidelines for speed limits on highways, cities and back roads. Speed limits can change quickly without notice, frequently as a highway enters town. Police love to camp in these areas, issuing tickets to anyone who doesn’t slow fast enough.

Stopping Distance

Below is a quick breakdown of how much time you have to think and react to an obstacle on the road:

Speed 60MPH 97KPH
Thinking distance 60 ft 18 m
Breaking distance 180 ft 55 m
Overall stopping distance 240 ft 73 m

Thinking distance is the same as the traveling speed in feet  e.g. 30 mph = 30 ft. thinking distance,  60 mph = 60ft thinking distance.

Drive on the left in Austrailia road sign

Right or Left side Drive

When driving in Australia you will notice signs that say “DRIVE ON LEFT in Australia” this is not meant as a joke. Lots of people die just because they forget what side of the road to be on.

Here is an image of countries that drive on the left and the right. Left and right driving

This content has been locked. You can no longer post any comment.