How to drive on the 'correct' side
In a previous blog post, we wrote that our best recommendation to get around the island is by renting (hiring, if you're British) a car for the duration of your stay. Shockingly, It's by far the most economical means of transport when vacationing in Grand Cayman. However this means the driver must be comfortable driving on the left side of the road. For some, the mention of driving on the opposite side makes them break out into a cold sweat. In reality, it's not that difficult. Here's a few tips to help you make the adjustment.
Avoid distraction. Adjust seats, mirrors, and radio stations before you start moving. Pull over to look at maps, or use your phone. Have the people in the car with you help serve as a navigator, and tell them to leave the interesting stories until you arrive at your destination. Pay constant attention. It's when your thoughts start to wander off, you fall back into muscle memory - on the wrong side of the road!
Navigate roundabouts correctly - this one is such a huge issue, it should have it's own blog post. However when one approaches a roundabout, you always yield to the traffic that is already in the roundabout. With mult-lane roundabouts, the rule is to choose the correct lane for the turn you intend to make - before you enter the roundabout. Left turns use the left lane. Right turns use the right lane. When going straight, you may use either lane. Seems simple, but at least once per day, we see rental cars causing near-collisions by making turns from the incorrect lane. If you do mess up and get in the wrong lane, don't make an unexpected turns - just go down the road and make a u-turn when traffic allows.
This video provides a very informative and graphical animation on the correct way to negotiate roundabouts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCXtcXD17qU
Watch your turns. When moving to Cayman, I found this to be the really the tricky part of driving on the opposite side. Muscle memory will cause you to pull into the right side of driveways and parking lots. Remind yourself as you begin the turn to keep to the left side of whatever you are turning into.
Don't drink and drive. This shouldn't even need mentioning, but please don't drink and drive. Drinking even moderate amounts will slow your reaction time, and could cause confusion and will compound your left-side driving issues. Not only that, but the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service conduct aggressive DUI enforcement. If arrested, they will seize your passport until the resolution of the case. Just don't do it.
If possible, request a car with right-hand drive. Here in the Cayman Islands, there is no standard as to what side the steering wheel will be on. You may find cars with right-hand drive, and others will have left-hand drive. Many of the minivans and compact rental cars on Cayman will have right-hand drive, and driving from the right side of the vehicle can help serve as a constant reminder that you need to stay on the left.
Fortunately, rental cars in the Cayman Islands have license plates that say "rental" on them. This lets the residents of Cayman recognize you as an out of towner and employ what's called 'Caymankind' - otherwise known as extreme courtesy.