Road conditions, driving customs, and driving behaviors can be vastly different from what you're used to, especially in the Caribbean, where roads and drivers can be somewhat unpredictable. Although Trinidad and Tobago achieved independence from England in 1962, drivers stay to the left-hand side of the road on both islands.
If you're traveling from North American or mainland Europe, take time to adjust to the change in direction and be cautious when you take the wheel. International visitors to Trinidad and Tobago may drive on the islands for up to 90 days but must have an International Driver's Permit or a valid driver's license from the Bahamas, Canada, England, France, Germany, or the United States. Most rental car companies require drivers to be at least 25 years old and have two years of driving experience. Front-seat passengers and drivers are required by law to wear seatbelts. Gas stations are located throughout Trinidad but are generally harder to find on Tobago.
Many main roads on Trinidad and Tobago are in good condition, and several well-maintained highways accommodate automobile traffic on Trinidad. Drivers in Port of Spain should be aware of aggressive drivers and gridlocked rush hours. Other roads on Trinidad and Tobago may suffer from typical Caribbean problems. Roads can be thin and curving and can also be flanked by steep embankments that make driving off the road doubly dangerous. Night-time driving is not generally recommended for international visitors because intoxicated drivers are common on both islands. Drivers should always be aware of animals and pedestrians that may cross into the road, and should take extra caution when taking blind corners. Local drivers can use hand signals that are unfamiliar to visitors from foreign countries to indicate turns and stops.
When driving in any foreign country, practice defensive driving habits. For more details, consult the Bureau of Consular Affairs general road safety guidelines (http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/safety/safety_1179.html) for tips while driving in a foreign country.
Trinidad makes it easy for tourists to avoid driving all together with their reliable and friendly bus service. The color coding on the buses makes them easy to use, even for long trips, and they are affordable to boot. Hailing a cab is another reliable means of getting around, though the price will be slightly higher than a bus ride.
Many visitors to Trinidad and Tobago enjoy the freedom of renting a car. Whether you set off to see the yachting area of Chaguaramas or the birds in the Asa Wright Nature Centre, exercise caution when taking to the road.
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