The Western Union Business Solutions Learning Center is a blog provided for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial, tax  or accounting advice. Consult your own independent advisors regarding your particular needs and circumstances.

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Mirror Image: Learning to Drive Abroad

Driving a foreign vehicle can be tricky. And the newness of driving in a foreign country is only amplified when steering wheels or lanes are reversed.

Regardless of what side of the road a driver is on, motor vehicle accidents are the top reason people are injured, says Alex Puig, regional security director for Americas at International SOS, an international health care medical assistance and security services company with locations worldwide.

If an expat is buying a car that is made for left-hand driving in the U.K., he can use a trusted online foreign exchange service to convert currency from dollars to pounds for international payments.

Small cues, like a sticky note on the dashboard or rearview mirror, can remind expats they’re in a foreign country, minimizing the risk of an accident.

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If an expat knows they will have a foreign vehicle abroad, they can use these traffic rules and driving tips to commute safely.

1. Pre-educate

Before moving abroad to a foreign country, Puig suggests researching on expat websites like InterNations or searching online for the country's department of motor vehicles to find the traffic rules such as details about the signs, traffic flow and road systems. "In the United States, we assume signage is going to be the same everywhere, but another country may view the road in a different way or use different color schemes or symbols," he says. "As an example, most stop signs around the world are red, and many are in the familiar octagon shape. However, in Japan, the shape of the sign is an upside down triangle. In Israel, the stop sign is an octagon, but with a raised hand."

2. Request Lessons

Expatriates moving abroad for business should consider asking their employers about formal driving lessons. Puig suggests requesting two four-hour lessons to become familiar with road courtesies and traffic rules. "Simply say, 'For my safety I need formal training to ensure I can drive at a proper level in that country,'" Puig says. "And if they won't arrange it for you, do it yourself and ask for compensation."

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3. Have Small, Constant Reminders

Because left-hand driving on the other side of the road is such an unnatural experience, expats can easily fall into their old habits - especially when they feel most comfortable.

Small cues, like a sticky note on the dashboard or rearview mirror, can remind expats they're in a foreign country, minimizing the risk of an accident. Michael Shepherd, a publisher of personalized travel guides who currently lives in Prague, uses the position of the steering wheel as a reminder, noting the steering wheel is always next to the dividing line rather than the edge of the road.

Jane Watkins, a St. Croix native who has lived in the U.S. for 20 years, uses visualization. "When I moved to the USA, I would sit in the car before taking off and say, 'I'm in America. Stay right,'" she says. "Then I'd visualize driving on the right-hand side, thinking about the path in front of me."

Just like learning to drive foreign vehicles on new roads, expats living overseas are learning how to convert to new currencies. To ease this transition, they can leverage the services of a trusted online foreign exchange provider that offers tools like free online currency converters and convenient bank-to-bank payments via one's laptop, tablet or smartphone.



Live Cross Rates

INR CAD GBP PHP USD EUR
USD 65.8840 1.2888 0.7893 50.0000 1.0000 0.9289
CAD 50.1350 1.0000 0.6029 37.7640 0.7523 0.7096
AUD 49.7770 0.9777 0.5991 37.4940 0.7469 0.7072
EUR 69.0380 1.3560 0.8309 52.0020 1.0359 1.0000
GBP 81.7400 1.6055 1.0000 61.5700 1.2265 1.1582

Example: 1USD = xx INR

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