Guide to Driving In Trinidad and Tobago - Drive Safe in Trinidad and Tobago
Are there any special requirements for driving or hiring a car in Trinidad and Tobago?
In Trinidad driving is on the left. There are no left turns on a red light and u-turns are illegal.
Trinidad has one of the biggest carnival celebrations in the world and you should avoid driving at this time. It takes place two days before Ash Wednesday and the whole island goes crazy.
During the rest of the year it is a good rule at the avoid rush hour anyway with the area around Queen's Park Savannah getting particularly congested. One of the biggest hazards on the roads is taxi drivers as they often do not obey rules and can stop suddenly and without warning. In particular Maxi Taxis are often involved in accidents when they stop to drop off passengers. Keep a safe distance.
The biggest danger is probably pedestrians as they tend across whenever they feel like rather than waiting for lights to change. Although this jaywalking is not legal you will be the one who gets in a lot of trouble if there is an accident.
Trinidad does also suffer from relatively high crime rates. Some people believe that having a licence plate with the letter R (rental) makes them a target, and so vehicles are sometimes rented with the letter P on the licence plate. This is in fact illegal and you are more likely to get good service with the R cars. Driving after dark or in bad neighbourhoods in Trinidad is to be avoided.
Some of the rural roads are lined with cow dung and this is known as ‘leepay’, but the trend is gradually getting phased out as the island becomes wealthier.
Seat Belt Laws
Only front seat passengers legally need to wear a seatbelt but if rear belts are fitted, it's recommended that you use them.
Drinking and Driving
The legal limit for blood alcohol in Trinidad and Tobago is 80mg per 100ml of blood or 35mg per litre of breath – the same as that in the UK. You can be randomly breathalysed if your driving is erratic and also at the times of year when drinking is more commonplace – the summer and at Christmas. If you're caught you can expect your car to be taken away, you'll face a court, a fine and a suspension. If the crime is serious enough, a custodial sentence can be awarded.
Must Have Documents
You will need to have your driving licence only if you're from the UK, the US or Canada, France or Germany. All other drivers will need an international driving permit. No other documentation is required by law but it does help to have all your vehicle documents with you.
Built up areas - 55 km/h/h
Highways - 80 km
Toll Highway 110 km/h
Minimum Driving Age
To hire a car in Trinidad and Tobago you must have held a licence for a minimum of two years and be at least 25 years of age. The minimum driving age however is only 17.
Safety Camera Warning Devices
It's not illegal to use a camera detector although it's best to abide by the speed limits anyway, negating the need for one.
On the Spot Fines
On the spot fines are not charged in Trinidad and Tobago, instead you'll get a ticket to be paid at a local bank or police station.
Child Safety Rules
Car safety laws are lax in Trinidad and Tobago but children under twelve cannot travel in the front of a car unless they are a baby in a rear facing car seat. In the back of the car it's not compulsory to wear a seatbelt so it will be up to you to ask for suitable child restraints and have them fitted.
A minimum of third party insurance is required but few drivers have even this!
Rules of the Road
Standard driving laws apply with one or two exceptions.
Traffic travels on the left in right hand drive cars.
Hand signals are common on the roads, especially amongst older drivers.
You cannot turn left at a stop light.
There are no specific laws for towing but common sense says to use hazard warning lights and give some indication of what you are doing.
Speed cameras are gradually being introduced in Trinidad and Tobago to help reduce road fatalities. They are a mix of fixed cameras and mobile radar traps. If you are caught you'll get a ticket for a fine.
Using Mobile Phones when driving
Driving whilst on the phone is illegal in Trinidad and Tobago but rarely enforced.
Parking is very haphazard in the capital Port of Spain and pretty much anything goes. Always park your car in a safe place and never leave any valuables in the vehicle.
In most parts of Trinidad and Tobago, parking is free and flexible. It's safer for your car – and sometimes yourself, to pay to park in a secure parking lot.
There isn't much in the way of paid parking unless you're in the capital or other bigger towns. It's likely that the parking will be some waste ground with a hut where you'll pay.
There are few places where you'll find you can't park so unless you are really unlucky or park in a dangerous or obstructive place you will have few problems.
There are no special arrangements for mobility impaired drivers in Trinidad and Tobago but usually you'll be helped to find somewhere more accessible.
Motor Way Signs
A lot of the road signs in Trinidad are old which makes them difficult to read however the motorway signs are in better condition. The main highways run from East/West and North/South in Trinidad.
Trinidadians speak a local dialect in a charming sing song. You may find it hard to understand them at times, but most likely they will understand you.
Traffic lights are yellow in Trinidad and Tobago and are more akin to the American system. There aren't many around and when a new set are installed, it's big news.
There is a single toll road in Trinidad and Tobago running from San Fernando to Princes Town.
In an Emergency you can call the police on 999 or ring 990 for the ambulance and fire service.
The United States Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago is at 15 Queen's Park, West Port of Spain and can be contacted on (868) 622-6371-6. Their website is http://trinidad.usembassy.gov/
The British High Commission in Trinidad and Tobago is at 19 St Clair Avenue, St Clair, Port of Spain and can be connected on (00) (1) (868) 350 0444. Their website is http://ukintt.fco.gov.uk/en
What to do in an emergency
Call the police on 999 if anyone is hurt or if there is serious damage to vehicles or property. You should also call your rental company. Get the licence number, name and insurance company of the other driver. Unfortunately there are many drivers on the road in Trinidad and Tobago who do not have valid insurance and this can be a problem. Try to take photographs if you can. Also attempt to get the names and addresses of any witnesses.
As of December 2013, the price of 95 octane unleaded petrol in Trinidad and Tobago is £0.44 whilst diesel is £0.42.
|1. There are NO toll highways or any other roads in Trinidad and Tobago. 2. Both drivers permit (licence) AND an insurance certificate for the vehicle are mandatory requirements for driving in Trinidad and Tobago. 3. Your tone is extremely condescending. Yet we are not very developed here but you paint a picture of a very backward society.