The roads of the French territories, including Martinique, are generally well-maintained and patrolled by officers who enforce traffic rules. Travelers who choose to rent a car on the island, however, should learn about local driving conditions before starting their engines.
Travelers from the United States only need a valid driver's license to legally drive on Martinique, but many rental car agencies also require renters to be 25 and older. Traffic moves on the right side of the road. Seat belts are required, and children under 12 are required by law to travel in the back seat of a car; children under six must be seated in the proper child safety apparatus. Many rental cars are manual transmission, so travelers who want automatic transmission should be sure to request it. The island's steep hills and congested traffic conditions can make driving and stopping tricky with a manual transmission.
If driving stick isn't something you're comfortable with, you can always opt to utilize the island's public transportation system. Buses can't be relied on to get you anywhere at a specific time (it is rare that a bus actually show up when it is scheduled to), they are a cheap way to explore the island. If you do have a time sensitive engagement, taxis are a better choice, since you can call ahead and have them pick you up from your hotel.
If you will be driving, it is a relief to know that Martinique has an expressway, and most of the main roads on Martinique are well-maintained and marked with guide signs posted along routes. Speed bumps can also be found throughout the island.
Traffic jams, aggressive drivers, curving roads, and steep inclines (which can often present themselves simultaneously) are the greatest dangers when driving on Martinique. Traffic congestion is particularly bad during traditional rush hour times in Fort-de-France and other areas. Drivers should also avoid driving on any of the weekend nights (Friday through Sunday) because of parties and traffic jams. Visitors from other countries who are not used to the aggressive driving on Martinique should exercise caution at all times while on the road.
When driving in any foreign country, it is always wise to exercise caution on the road. For those who can adapt to driving conditions on Martinique, the roads are good, and cars can be a good way to tour the island.
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