Driving Tips for Costa Rica

How to be a better driver in Costa Rica:

Even the most experienced driver gets into comfortable habits with familiar routes, and in their own vehicle. When journeying to new places and in a rental vehicle, it’s worth brushing up on driving skills for a stress-free road trip. Here’s a few of our suggestions to consider:

• Defensive driving is the style to adopt in Costa Rica. With few major highways, there is no chance to ease into cruise control, and drivers need to have their wits about them at all times.

o Keep your eyes moving ahead and on mirrors to anticipate any upcoming road hazards or changes to the traffic flow.
o Match the speed of the vehicles around you.
o Signal in good time with clear indication for turning in advance to alert other drivers to your movements.
o Switch on headlights as soon as it starts to get dark, as there is little dusk so close to the Equator.  Use headlights in heavy rain too for other drivers to be aware of your road presence earlier.
o Use horn when entering a blind spot to alert other drivers.
o Maintain a safe distance with the two second rule between your vehicle and the one in front.
rough road

• The mirrors on your car are perfectly angled to assist your driving. Take the time to adjust the rental vehicle’s mirrors to optimize your vision. Side mirrors should be out far enough that the rear view mirror vision is overlapped.

• Be alert.  The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimated that one in every six crashes resulting in a fatality involved a tired driver in 2010.  If you arrive on a late flight, do take a hotel room and have the vehicle delivered in the morning when you’re fresh and rested.

• Check for road conditions. While the GPS is excellent as a route-finder, it won’t alert you to weather conditions, accidents or other potential delays on the roads.  Ask your hotel for any news updates before setting off.

• Remove distractions to stay fully focused on the road:

o Prepare for the journey by using the restroom, eating a light meal and being hydrated to be fully focused.
o Have the journey carefully planned with a clear visual of the route, even if you are using a GPS system.
o Put cell phone or other electronic devices out of reach.
o Make sure that child passengers are comfortable.
o Remind the chatty passenger to quieten down as politely as possible 😉
o Have change for tolls close by.

Take your time and enjoy your Costa Rican roadtrip to see the corners of the country that would be missed on a conventional tour or with public transport.  Follow our tips for safe and stress-free driving!

What tips would you add?  Let us know!