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Tips for Safe Driving in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Driving in the US Virgin Islands

Tips for Safe Driving in the U.S. Virgin Islands

The U.S. Virgin Islands are just over 1,000 miles from Florida, which means a relaxing tropical paradise is just a quick flight away. As the tourism brochures are quick to tout, these Caribbean islands are lined with dazzling white-sand beaches and breathtakingly beautiful blue waters.

The three main islands are St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas. The best way to explore the islands is to rent a vehicle. You can use your U.S. driver’s license to drive on any of the U.S. Virgin Islands for up to 90 days after you arrive. 

However, there are some key ways that driving on these islands is different than driving at home. In this article, we’ll guide you through five ways to stay safe while driving on the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Step over to the other side

The first point to keep in mind is that everything is on the wrong side. Yes, you’ll have to drive on the left side of the road.

Throwing another wrench into the driving machinery is the fact that most cars are imported from the United States—and have the steering wheel on the left side. So, even if you’re used to driving on the left side because you’ve driven in England, it’s still going to seem like a very foreign experience to drive on the left side of the road in a vehicle that has the steering wheel on the left.

Learn a new language

You’ll need to learn the island driving lingo, the language of car horns. Forget about the rules back home; here, feel free to use your horn. Gentle taps on the horn are an accepted form of communication. A quick beep-beep lets other drivers know that you appreciate it when they give you the right of way or let you pass them.

Mountain driving

Mountains abound on the islands, which means the roads will take you up and down steep hills. If you’re not used to this kind of driving, give yourself time to practice going up and down the inclines until you feel comfortable. Also, watch out for abrupt turns and curves as the roads hug the mountainside.

Stay alert

On the islands, roads are generally narrow, potholes are common, and some streets are lined with trenches for rainwater runoff. Add to that some stray goats and chickens wandering onto the street, and you will quickly realize you need to keep your eyes peeled for things on or near the roadway.

One-third of all roads on the U.S. Virgin Islands are private. Though public roads are paved, a lot of private ones are not, or are only partially paved. Drive slowly to avoid damaging your vehicle.

Cellphones are still a no-no

Don’t drive distracted—it’s illegal on the islands to use a cellphone while driving.

 

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