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Caribbean Delight - Driving in Jamaica
If you thought you were an excellent driver, don't be too quick to medal yourself if you have not taken on the challenge of 'Driving in Jamaica'.
The most important thing to remember when driving in Jamaica is that, we drive on the LEFT with steering wheels on the right, although some flexibility is required to avoid collisions with pedestrians, cows, goats, chickens and other domestic animals.
We have over 17,000 kilometres of road networks connecting all major towns and cities; the speed limit is 50 kmph (30 mph) in built-up areas, and 80 kmph (50 mph) on highways. All drivers are required to carry a valid licence. Jamaica recognizes valid International Driver’s Licences, but visitors from North America may use their country's licence for up to three months per visit. Don't worry, you would be long gone back home before this time expires. Although, for you dare devils out there who decide that you want to make Jamaica your home, make sure and get a Jamaican licence as after 3 months the insurance companies might not honor an accident on your foreign licence.
If you decide to rent a vehicle for exploring the countryside and seeing the islanders in action, a SUV is probably your best bet. And yes, we do have toll roads and very beautiful if I may say. Tolls can cost you anywhere between JA$80-$320 (US$0.80-$4.00)
Most locals don't think twice about stopping in the middle of the road to carry on a conversation with a bystander, and don't be put off by honking horns; it's a Caribbean way of saying 'hello' (one short beep) or 'get out of the way' (long and horrific beeeeeeep).
Drivers, especially taxis and minibuses are generally in a big rush to get to places and pick up passengers. Don't let go off your steering if you see a few people hanging out of a bus door, they are not about to commit suicide it's just the Jamaican way of 'filling up to the last spot'.
Ooh, and if you so happen to be taking a country trip like out in Westmoreland, Portland or any of those rural areas...don't worry if someone waves saying hello, you don't have to know their names...Maas Joe (for any man) and Aunt Mae (for any woman) is a welcome gesture.....let's practice........you are driving along the country sipping a cold jelly coconut and someone waves....you would slow down and say 'good morning Maas Joe' with a smile and move on.
Driving in Jamaica is fun and exciting, it keeps you healthy by sharpening your eyesight; gives you super sonic hearing, clears your vocal cords and most of all keep your heart rate at a rapid and upbeat rate......enjoy!!!!!!!