Are there any special requirements for driving or hiring a car in ?
In Barbados you'll drive on the left as you do in the UK. Most of the roads are in very good condition but watch out for potholes when you get out into the countryside. The most pressing danger to watch out for is when driving at night. Many roads do not have pavements and so pedestrians usually walk on the side of the road where they may be difficult to see.
Roads are generally quite narrow and busy apart from the ABC highway. Also watch out for the buses and vans, they go much faster than you might expect. Having a map or a GPS is invaluable. Although Barbados is very small it is very easy to get lost, especially if you follow local instructions! If a driver flashes his headlights at you at an intersection this means that you can go ahead. Because of the potential for car theft, you should never leave valuables in an unattended vehicle and always park in well lit areas. You are advised never to pick up hitchhikers.
Seat Belt Laws
The law states that all occupants of a moving vehicle must be wearing a seatbelt. You will be fined if you are caught without one.
Drinking and Driving
Rather worryingly, there are no restrictions on drinking and driving in Barbados. Because of this anomaly, road death numbers are very high but the government seems incapable of getting remedial laws passed.
Must Have Documents
You'll need to have your domestic driving licence with you but you'll also need to have a driving permit for Barbados. Your car hire company will sort this out for you. If you are driving your own car they can also be obtained from police stations in Hastings, Worthing, and Holetown, the Ministry of Transport or the airport. A permit costs $10 (Barbados dollars)
Barbados has the sixth highest density of roads in the world and so there are plenty of them to drive on. As the island is so small, you'll barely get any speed up at all but just in case, the limits are:
20 miles per hour in the city
37 miles per hour on country roads
50 miles per hour on highways
Minimum Driving Age
To drive in Barbados you need to be at least 16 years old. You won't be able to hire a car at that age - the minimum is 21 and most companies need you to be 23 or 25.
Safety Camera Warning Devices
Safety camera warning devices are not illegal in Barbados but they have limited usage as there are no fixed speed cameras as yet and rarely are there ever any mobile speed traps.
On the Spot Fines
Driving rules are very lax in Barbados and unless you are doing something extremely dangerous, you're unlikely to be stopped. On the rare occasion you are stopped, a ticket will be issued which will need to be paid at the nearest police station.
Child Safety Rules
Child safety is taken a little more seriously and the under fives cannot sit in the front of a car without an appropriate restraint system. Over five, no restraint system is required by law. If you are hiring a car, we will ensure that appropriate seating systems for all ages are fitted prior to collection.
There is a minimum requirement of third party insurance in Barbados but all of our hire cars include comprehensive insurance.
Rules of the Road
Barbados has a ridiculously relaxed attitude to driving and as such has a very high road death and injury count.
It is in the interest of your own safety to make sure you follow all the rules you would do at home. Make sure all passengers are buckled in, that you follow the speed limits, that you don't drink and that you remain constantly aware of the possible actions of other drivers.
Not surprisingly, there are no restrictions on towing vehicles in Barbados. It is up to you to make sure that the vehicle or trailer is securely attached and that other drivers are aware of what you are doing.
Whilst there is pressure for fixed speed cameras to be introduced in Barbados to cut down the number of road deaths, there is still little progress. Police do sometimes experiment with mobile speed traps but these are so rare as to not be a worry.
Using Mobile Phones when driving
Once more, there are no laws against the use of a mobile phone whilst driving but for your own safety and awareness of what is going on around you on the road, it's best not to use them without a hands-free kit.
Given the lax attitude to motoring in Barbados you might think that you can park just about anywhere but that's not the case. In the towns you must park only where there is a P sign or in municipal parking areas. In the villages you can park just about anywhere sensible. You need to make sure that where you do park, especially at night, is visible and well lit as there is a lot of car crime in Barbados. For that reason you mustn't leave anything valuable in your car.
Paid parking can be found in the parking bays or in the municipal garages. Parking is cheap, usually around 30p an hour, wherever you park.
Barbados has traffic wardens who will happily issue tickets if you contravene regulations.
There is no recognition of the European Blue Badge scheme in Barbados but if you need a more convenient place to park, just ask an attendant at a parking lot and they usually oblige for a few dollars.
Motor Way Signs
There are no motorways as such but the main highway is the ABC highway. It is clearly signposted.
English is the national language of Barbados often spoken with the traditional Caribbean lilt and sometimes with a smattering of local words.
You'll have no difficulty being understood.
Traffic lights are mainly found in the main cities and all follow the same system that the UK ones do. There are no anomalies apart from that many drivers completely ignore red.
There are no toll roads in Barbados
The emergency services number is 211 for the Police, 511 for the Ambulance and 311 for the Fire Service. For driving advice contact the Barbados Tourism Authority at 212-986-6516
What to do in an emergency
If you are involved in an accident, do not admit liability even if it was your fault. Phone the police and your car hire company and wait for the police to arrive. Whilst waiting, you should try to take pictures and, after the police have arrived, make a note of the number, name and station of the attending police officers.
As at July 2014, the price of 95 octane unleaded is £1.14 with diesel a little cheaper. With so many roads, you'll find enough petrol stations, especially as the island is only 21 miles long.