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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Dangerous Driver Expands Horizons

Another short post:

I love driving, but time in Asia and lots of travel means I am more often driven than driving. My favorite cars sit slowly depreciating in garages, which has been good news for my brother in law who enjoys exercising the cars from time to time (to my sister's consternation), but bad news for me.

I just received my international driver permit. It was suprisingly easy, although truth be told, my personal assistant handled almost all of it. I did it in the United States; it took only two or three days.

The International Drivers Permit is based on a convention signed in 1949 in the United Nations (with an update in 1968 that went into effect in 1977) to harmonize the rights of drivers in different countries. Several countries that were not signatory to that agreement still recognize the International Drivers Permit. Other countries, mostly in the Carribean, recognize it if you register upon arrival in the country.

You can click on the front page to the right to see the treaty.

Interestingly, the US-issued permit is not a license to drive in the United States; in other words, it does not supercede any US driving license, which is granted state by state and is not a federal right.

I doubt I will ever use this permit, which expires in a year. When I rented a car in Europe I did not need one. The factory sponsored drives in Germany or Italy also did not require this permit.

So why did I obtain one? I want to drive on my upcoming trips to Saudi Arabia and Iceland (my Fire and Ice tour), and I was advised to obtain the permit for that. I am imagining that the wide open spaces and challenging terrain in those countries will make for some interesting driving experiences. I have a friend who is entering the Paris Dakar rally (where they have finally banned GPS, and this year is actually from Lisbon to Dakar). He will accompany me. I anticipate a fun learning experience.

Back to the permit: I wish it were smaller. It is a very inconvenient size: about 11 cm x 15 cm.

You can click on the picture to go to a page of resources on where you can obtain such permits in your country.

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