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12 Tips on Road Safety & Renting Vehicles when visiting “holiday-islands

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 […]

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. 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Don’t be alarmed when you see other drivers honk for no particular reason. This is a common way of saying “Hello”.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
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