Driving a car or motorcycle in Antigua can be a great option for making your way around the island. Visitors should use extreme caution when driving, keeping in mind that conditions and procedures on the road will not always be familiar. Awareness of local regulations and dangers will increase your safety while on the road.
Antigua's visitors can obtain a temporary six-month license with a valid driver's license from their home country at a fee of $20(USD). Drivers stay to the left side of the road, so Americans will need to adapt to this significant difference. Permits can be obtained from the Antigua and Barbuda Transport Board (268-460-8300/1) or from rental companies. Major international rental companies are generally safer to rent from. Motorcycles, for rent in Jolly Harbour, can be risky on Antigua's unpredictable roads, but they are also a great way to get from place to place.
Large main roads in Antigua are in relatively good condition, but smaller roads may be more rugged and undeveloped. Slow-moving vehicles and animals often crowd roads that already have significant numbers of potholes and bends. There is a 40 mph speed limit that is generally not enforced or regulated, and drivers should always be on the defensive for damaged roads or aggressive and fast drivers. Most roads lack signposts or directional guides, so drivers will want to study maps and ask for directions. Many vehicles may also lack functioning signal and brake lights, and buses are generally crowded and move quickly through traffic. While there are plenty of ways to get around the island, travelers going to remote locations should make sure to secure the rental of a four-wheel-drive vehicle. The Bureau of Consular Affairs has posted its general road safety guidelines here.
If you are traveling with a young child, it is important to be aware that while it is not illegal to travel without a car seat, most injuries suffered by young children abroad occur in moving vehicles. If it is possible for you to bring you car seat from home, it is highly recommended by safety experts that you do so.
While car rentals and gasoline can be expensive and roads unpredictable, renting a car or motorcycle can still be a good way of getting around Antigua. Those who choose to take this route should educate themselves about the local terrain and exercise caution while on the road.
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