What to expect driving on public roads in Barbados

Table of Contents

Driving Licences

To drive on a public road in Barbados, you must have a valid domestic or foreign driving licence. If you have a foreign driving licence, it is not valid in Barbados unless you have a Visitor Driving Permit. The cost of the permit is BBD $10 for two months or BBD $100 for one year.

If you are renting a vehicle with a car rental company in Barbados, you will have the opportunity to purchase a Visitor Driving Permit when you are collecting your car rental. Alternatively, a Visitor Driving Permit can be purchased directly from the Barbados Revenue Authority.

Remember to keep your driving licence and Visitor Driving Permit with you at all times whilst driving.

Driving in Barbados

Remember to drive on the left side of the road.

Many roads in Barbados are in fair to poor condition with potholes and faded road markings. Be aware of your surroundings and drive carefully, especially during or after heavy rains when large potholes may be hidden underneath puddles.

Speed limits

Unless road signs or markings indicate otherwise, the speed limit on most roads is 60 km/h, except on the ABC Highway and Spring Garden Highway where the speed limit is 80 km/h. However, the speed limit is lower in Bridgetown, at 40 km/h.

In other countries with low speed zones, speed limit signs are usually placed at the start and end of the zone, but this is not the case in Barbados. Speed limit signs are only placed at the start of a low speed zone. Therefore, unless you know the area, the only way to know if you have reached the end of a low speed zone is by carefully looking through your side or rearview mirrors when you are driving past a sigpost on the other side of the road, to see if that shows the start of the low speed zone for the other side of the road.

However, these speed limit signs may be missing, especially in rural areas of Barbados. If the start or end of a low speed zone is ambiguous or not clear due to an absence of speed limit signs in an area that you are not familiar with, exercise reasonable judgement based on the road conditions and your surroundings. In most cases, a low speed zone is enforced due to a nearby school or residential neighbourhood.

To help differentiate between different signposts on the road, take note that the diameter of the signpost disc for bus stops and shelters is usually smaller than for speed limit signs.

Traffic lights

In Barbados, a solid amber light is only applied on traffic lights when vehicles are required to stop (i.e. when the lights are turning red). Once the lights are red, they will jump to green once traffic is allowed to continue.

You must stop at traffic lights as soon as they turn amber unless it would pose a danger to yourself or others to stop in time.

If traffic lights are flashing red, this means there is a signal failure and you should exercise extreme caution and give way as needed.

Some traffic lights have arrows that intermittently flash in an amber colour. This means that traffic can continue in that direction but must give way to oncoming vehicles first.

Public service vehicles

There are a large number of public service vehicles across the island called route taxis (informally known as ZRs). These vehicles are small vans with licence plates beginning with ZR or ZM.

Drivers of these vehicles are prone to exceeding the speed limit; leaving their indicators (blinkers) on; stopping without notice; and performing dangerous maneuvers such as overtaking vehicles when there is little space available.

Pedestrian crossings

You must give way to pedestrians that are waiting to cross the road at a pedestrian crossing. Once a pedestrian starts crossing, you must wait until they have finished crossing the road before you continue driving.

If there is a central reservation (e.g. on the ABC Highway), you should wait until the pedestrian reaches the middle reservation before driving off.

It is common for drivers in Barbados to apply their hazard lights when they are stopping at a pedestrian crossing to warn other drivers to stop and give way to persons crossing the road.

Junctions and roundabouts

You may hear car horns at junctions. This is because it is customary for drivers to use their car horn to thank another driver for giving way.

Never assume that you can exit a junction because an oncoming vehicle is using their indicators (blinkers). For example, if you are turning right at a junction and an oncoming vehicle to your right is indicating left, do not assume they are turning left. Some drivers do not pay attention and keep their indicators on.

There are many roundabouts in Barbados. Remember to give way (yield) before joining a roundabout, and unless road signs or markings indicate otherwise, the left lane is for turning left only. Learn more about how roundabouts work in Barbados.