Hundreds of millions of people visit islands from the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean every year.Most of these destinations are considered perfect holiday spots with great whether all year round, breathtaking beaches, incredible landscapes and an interesting mix of various cultures. From the scenic beaches of St. Bartsto the surreal waters of the Maldives, each island offers visitors its one-of-a-kind experience and appeal.
And many of the tourists who plan to visit such a
destination, notablythose interested in independent travel, decideto rent a
vehicle in to better explore the island. Howeverdriving on an island can be much
different from what you are used to. Everything from road quality to speed
limits and traffic are usually specific to each of these locations.
According to the Global
Status Report on Road Safety from 2018, over 1.34
million lost their lives in traffic fatalities. Since even the best drivers can
be taken by surprise if they don’t know what to expect, we wrote down12 tips on
road safety and car rentals when visiting an island. For this information we
did some online research and we contacted some rental branches owners to see
what they could add to t our list. We spoke to personnel at the Buget Car Rent
Aruba, in Oranjestad, one at the Cruise terminal in St Thomas, Virgin islands
and the owner of Bocarrental.com which is
an agency based in Curacao.
- Keep in mind that despite most roadsare paved
and safe to driveit all depends how close you are to a town or the main
motorway. Pot holes, bumps and steeper hills are something that you can
encounter on any island.Also you need to be on the lookout for animals such as neighborhood
dogsor catsthat like to wonder in the shoulder areas of these roads.
- Besides dogs and cats you are also likely to come
across livestock on the roads. On some islands cows have right of way by law so
you will need to wait for them to move before continuing with your journey.
- A thing you need to understand is that people can
pull over or even stop in the middle of the road without indicating.Whether
they meet a friend or have something to drop off they don’t usually take any
precautions. This is why you should keep a safe distance from the car in front
of you, usuallyin towns or other crowded areas.
- One very important thing to consider is the side
of the road people drive on. On some Caribbean islands like Bahamas, Saint
Lucia,Anguilla and the U.S. Virgin Islandscars drive on the left-hand side of
the road. Some car rental companies might give you a vehicle with the steering
wheel also on the left, which makes overtaking quite dangerous.
- Turning left or right on a red light is sometimes
prohibited on islands.U-turns may alsobe forbidden, so make sure you fully understand
the particularities of traffic laws before renting a car.
- Don’t be alarmed when you see other drivers honk
for no particular reason. This is a common way of saying “Hello”.
- Always be on the lookout for motorcyclists whenever
changing lanes. They frequently swerve through slow traffic and drive between
moving vehicles overpassing from left or right.
- Despite drivers usually abiding to traffic laws
in urban areas, you can occasionally witness overtakes in dangerous locations,
tailgating and vehicles going at very high speed.
- In some parts of the world vehicles are in a
poor state of repair. This is particularly true for most rural areas where they
might be badly lit at night. We recommend being extra cautious when driving
through such areas.
- Island roads can get very slippery or even
partially flooded when wet. It’s probably a good idea toavoid long drives and
adventuring in remote places when it’s raining outside.
- When renting a car on an island you need to
consider extra insurance.And while liability isregularly covered by the rental company,
coverage for the car itself is a totally different story. You can use your
credit card for this as most big names include free coverage or you can opt for
a collision damage waiver.
- Always lock the car and don’t leave any
valuables in plain sight. It’s probably a good idea to hide your bag – even it
if it’s empty – in the trunk. While many islands are considered safe, theft is
one of the most widespread felonies across the world.
Regardless of your destination
common sense is probably your best ally. These are the best tips for a hassle
free experience on the road:
- Plan your trip ahead and check your GPS for the
route and its particularities.
- Always drive within the speed limit and don’t
make sudden or reckless turns on the road.
- Always wear your seatbelt, avoid driving at
night and don’t use your phone behind the wheel.
- Never drink alcohol before driving.
- If you are involved in any type of traffic
incident your safest bet is to call the police. They will tell you what to do
and this way you avoid being scammed.