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nervous driver

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Posts: 17
Eminent Member
Topic starter

Ok, so we're renting a car this time, since there are 5 of us, and a taxi will be way too much money since they charge per person...soo, please reassure me, how easy/hard is it to drive on the left side of the road? I'm not too confident, and I don't want it to ruin our trip.

Posted : May 30, 2010 7:28 pm
Posts: 563
Honorable Member

i flip from driving on the left to driving on the right when i go stateside quite easily (but i have a horrible sense of direction, so i get lost a lot either way *-) )... you may be surprised. in the usvi, cars are as they are stateside, with the steering wheel on the left.

when i visited an island where the steering wheel was on the right, however, i found myself quite disoriented and nervous. so it's your orientation inside the car in my opinion which will determine your ability to drive on the left, not driving on the "wrong side"...

if you are renting a villa, your management company may provide an escort to your villa so you can get used to driving on the left without worrying about getting lost as well. but really, i think you will be fine.

you will have much more fun being independent and explore, too! go for it!

Posted : May 30, 2010 8:22 pm
Posts: 264
Reputable Member

Remember "left turn on red"

Posted : May 30, 2010 9:41 pm
Posts: 3316
Famed Member

Don't worry about it - thousands of visitors such as yourself take and meet the "challenge" every year with no mishaps! One of the major plusses is that our maximum speed limit is 35MPH and you'll hardly ever reach even that speed with the majority of your driving being around 25MPH. Your rental car will sport a dashboard sticker reminding you to "keep left".

If you're coming out of a side road onto a main road, you'll find that local drivers are quite courteous and will stop to let you into traffic, either flashing their lights or waving you out - and it's common practice to tap your horn to say "thank you" in return. Don't be confused by what seems like miscellaneous honking - we honk when we see someone we know whether they're in another vehicle or in their yard!

If you're on an unfamiliar road at night and there's nobody in front of you it's inevitable that someone familiar with the road will come up behind you and tailgate you trying to get you to move faster. Don't get flustered, just slow down and pull to the side when you have a chance to let them overtake you. Ten to one they'll be right in front of you at the next intersection so all their rush was for nothing anyway!

You'll be fine and after just a short while behind the wheel you'll be wondering what you were getting so nervous about. Enjoy your visit and have a great time exploring!

Posted : May 31, 2010 7:21 am
Posts: 408
Reputable Member

Be careful if you are coming out of a parking lot or one way road and there is no traffic on the road in front of you. Without the reference I still have a bad habit of heading to the right side of the road if there are no references. It's only a split second but it's a hesitation so look around and think before you pull out.

My husband was in St. Louis a few years back and pulled into a one way street with two lanes but no one way sign. He was driving in the left lane (the wrong way) and got stopped. The officer looked at his VI drivers license, laughed and told him to turn around. We laughed and laughed over this one.


Posted : May 31, 2010 10:08 am
Posts: 313
Reputable Member

Someone once told me to "keep your shoulder to the shoulder" and repeating that in my mind helped me. Also, when you get to an intersection just flip the location of the right turn lane from being on your left side to being on your right side and you'll be fine.

Have a great time!

Posted : May 31, 2010 12:10 pm
Posts: 9
Active Member

We have rented cars twice while in St. Thomas. The first time I was almost in a wreck with a dump truck because of the very thing pamela said. I was pulling out from a parking lot, on a curve, and instinctively headed right, corrected, and gunned it just in time to miss getting hit. I learned my lesson. Just take your time, that is the best advice. Also, my husband likes to "practice" here in a parking lot before we go! That's kind of funny. It does help that the cars are just like here in the states. In Grand Cayman they are not, and it was a nightmare with the roundabouts, high speeds, and rude drivers. The drivers in St. Thomas are the best, very patient and courteous. Just watch out for all the other tourists who are doing just what you are doing and by the end of your stay you will be laughing and the guy who just arrived and is driving on the left for the first time. Take your video camera and have someone in the car film as soon as you start will be one of the funniest videos of your trip, I guarantee it! Have a great time and watch out for me on the road in 19 days!!!!! Can't wait!!!!

Posted : June 1, 2010 7:42 pm
Posts: 269
Reputable Member

Keep your "Shoulder to the shoulder" and you'll be fine.

Posted : June 1, 2010 7:57 pm
Posts: 1138
Noble Member

My advice...go island time.
Driving on the left is no big deal. Different yes, but not a vacation ruiner (?) by any means. Remember, you are on vacation. No where to be, no meeting to be at, no problem mon (with all due respect). If you get there early, they won't be open anyway and in no hurry to serve and quite frankly that is why you are going to VI in the first place. If you wanted service go to Vegas or Disney World. If you want to chill, revive the soul and get to know your mate or friends better than you do already go to he VI.
When you come to the switchback and can't see the road in front of you, honk the horn to let someone know you are there (not like you want to get them moving at a light when back home). The limit is 20 MPH and at times you will think "that's just suicidal!" but again, you are not trying to catch a train so 'go with the flow'.
Bottom line, don't worry. Enjoy it, you will be back home on the RH side soon enough and wishing you were driving on the 'wrong' side again.

Posted : June 1, 2010 9:07 pm
Posts: 17
Eminent Member
Topic starter

Thanks for all your replies, I think it will be great!!

Posted : June 4, 2010 7:31 am
Posts: 264
Reputable Member

I pretty much had the same issue when returning home after nearly 4 months in St Thomas. As I was leaving the Airport parking lot the only "toll booth" for payment was the one on the left. I pulled in and paid and promptly pulled out into the left lane. It was late at night so there were very few cars on the roadway but all of a sudden there were headlights coming at me. I started calling them "stupid tourists" and then it dawned on my jet lagged brain that I was the idiot. I quickly pulled over and was very happy that I didn't get a ticket.

Posted : June 5, 2010 10:32 am

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