Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Driving in the Virgin Islands

We get many visitors to the Virgin Islands and it always comes up about driving here. Why? Probably because we drive on the left with vehicles from the United States mainland, which are set up for driving on the right, steering wheel is on the left. This is in addition to roads that are narrow, windy and often have no center lines, which have faded over the years here and there is no more money in the budget here to have them repainted.

This makes many visitors very uncomfortable and I remember my first time driving on St. Thomas from the airport to my friends house in Mandahl,  a house that is perched on the side of the hill. I was alone and that was such a white knuckle experience for me, that I think I drove one more time in the 4 days I was here. I remember asking my friends, why can't they just switch over to the right? The next time I came, I had reserved a RAV4, but they were out of them and was given a mini-van and thought I was going to die! That lasted about 2 days. Now I laugh about it as once you drive here, it becomes such habit that when I go stateside, I often find myself going to the left, especially in parking lots.





A little history, the Virgin Islands were once a Danish colony and the mode was left. When the US bought the islands, they kept the left as standard. Now Guam recently changed one from left to right, why can't you do that here? Well, change here is never a popular word. My guess is that the taxi cabs (mafia here), does not want that to change because then many visitors would feel comfortable driving here and wouldn't use the cabs.

Which brings me to if you are visiting here, don't be afraid to drive here, it is pretty easy, you don't go more than 30 MPH and you will get used to it. Everyone seems to rent Jeeps here, but they cost a premium and you really don't need one, you won't be driving on sand, all of our roads are paved (maybe not in the best of shape) and Jeeps are easy to break into. You will be just fine with an economy car like a Toyota Yaris. Keep in mind that if you are planning to take the car ferry over to St. John, Hertz does not allow it. There is a good car company that rents a Jeep though for $50/day at Paradise Car Rental, 340-514-2692. Gas is anywhere from $4.59 to $4.89 a gallon and this price hasn't changed in over a year now.

I often have fun when I am driving visitors to our house as we live on a single lane, hilly, over grown cement road. 



Here are some rules of the road here for you too!  

Do's


  • Wear you seatbelt
  • Have a beer or a cocktail while driving.
  • Obey all stop signs and traffic lights. 
  • Keep your left shoulder to the left side of the road. 
  • At night keep an eye to the left when an on coming vehicle is coming in the other direction, right hand vehicles have their lights aimed to the right as not to blind the other driver, well it is back wards here.
  • When someone lets you out of an intersection or is sitting there giving you a chance to go and honks at you, they are not mad, they are just being polite and letting you out. A simple tap of the horn suffices for a thank you. 
  • Stay Left, it is easier to see if you are going to drive off the side of that cliff! 

Don'ts



  • Drive the speed limit, no one goes 10 MPH where it is posted. There are no radar guns down here. 
  • Drive legally drunk but see above for cocktail do's. 
  • Talk or text on your cell phone. 
  • Try to park downtown. 
  • Ask a local if they should take Route 33 to Route 42, we have no clue what you are talking about. We use landmarks here since there are no real address here and no one knows what route is what.
  • Rear end a safari cab, they stop where ever and when ever. 
  • Honk your horn when you come upon a stopped car. They are either having a conversation, grabbing a newspaper, or letting some one out of their car, they will eventually move, just be patient. The concept of pulling over safely has not yet caught on down here. 


  

No comments:

Post a Comment

We would love to hear your comments, no need to sign in, just comment using Name/URL and leave URL blank or as Anonymous User