A Canadian was one of the 12 people killed after a tour bus crashed in Mexico Tuesday. Three other Canadians were injured after the bus carrying cruise ship passengers flipped over on a highway near the Mayan ruins.
That type of tragedy is not uncommon while travelling in other countries. Road collisions are the most frequent cause of death among travellers — surpassing crime, infectious disease and plane travel, according to the World Health Organization.
In July, two Canadians were injured after a double-decker tour bus rolled over on a narrow road in the hills of Lima, Peru, killing nine people.
“When we go to another country, we think of vaccinating ourselves against infectious diseases, but the biggest danger to anyone travelling overseas is being in a crash,” Bella Dinh-Zarr, former acting chairman of the U.S. National Transportation Board told NBC News.
WATCH: Cuban bus tour crash claims 2 lives, injures 28
According to the WHO, as a result of rapid development, many countries do not have the proper infrastructure to keep up with the number of vehicles. Road laws and drivers’ training may also be inadequate.
Where are crashes happening?
In 2013, 90 per cent of road traffic deaths in the world occurred in low- and middle-income countries, according to the WHO. Speed, drunk driving and lack of seat belts were some of the causes.
“Often vehicles will not have seat belts for all passengers – or the seat belts that are fitted are not working,” according to a report on road safety by the Fia Foundation.
Tourists using taxis, buses or coaches may find themselves in speeding vehicles, in dense urban activity areas, possibly with the driver distracted by a mobile phone or other passengers, the report said.
WATCH: Security camera captures deadly tour bus crash which left Canadian injured
How to stay safe on the roads when travelling
The Fia Foundation’s “Bad Trips” report found that the international tourism industry did not provide enough safety advice to alert tourists about a country’s road problems, such as a guidebook on road safety.
Avoid driving at night if possible, always wear a seat belt and take car service with drivers familiar with the safest routes, the report recommends. Ask about drivers, vehicles and which roads will be taken before you travel.
READ MORE: Canada’s list of most risky places to travel
Another tip is to do your research ahead of time and buy travel insurance, Tony Tsai with CAA South Central Ontario said.
“Speak to a travel agent as they are the most knowledgeable about other countries,” he said. “They understand the rules and regulations of the places you are visiting.”
Tourists should seek road safety information from the government as well as contacting the Canadian embassy in the country they are travelling to, he said.
“The last one is to trust your judgment and instinct,” Tsai said. “If you don’t feel safe, listen to it.”
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