hidden by overgrowth are concrete water diversion barriers that, during heavy rains, block gushers of water from cascading directly from mountain and cliff sides on to and across the road. AND there are the ever present steep embankment drop-offs a few to hundreds of feet down…OR, sheer cliff faces acting as one edge of the road or other.
Because of the potholes, bumps, deep cracks and other crumblings, most everyone swerves, dodges and darts between the them as is appropriate for avoidance. This means that at any given location the entire road, side to side, is utilized in either direction. Potholes range in depth from 1-8 inches or more and a few inches to a few feet in width.
During any heavy to moderate rain you will encounter rocks of all sizes (washed from the cliffs) and or earth slides stretching across your path. As well, land red crabs, some the size of a small bowl, take to scurrying across roads when it rains, more so at night. Running over one some times lends itself to a punctured tire as the end of their claws are as sharp and hard as a nail.
There are NO lines painted down the center or edges of the road, (the exception being now the newly repaved "main road" between Portsmouth and Roseau... however these lines could be fading fast). And, there are mostly no street lights along roads, making night driving a very dark experience.
Expect to frequently encounter pedestrians day and night, numerous dogs and gazing animals, (goats, *cows & chickens) on or alongside any route. These animals are used to to being near to or directly on the road; consequently, they have not fear of vehicles and barely notice when cars and trucks zip by them.
*BE AWARE, that as you leave Picard / Portsmouth driving south toward Roseau, there is a herd of cows (5-15+ in number) that freely roam and wander the edges and middle of the road, day AND night, for approximately 5 miles -- this poses an extreme hazard -- be alert!
Few to no road or traffic signs are provided. (As well, there are no house or business address numbers.) There are no stop lights on the island and very few stop signs… most of which seldom get stopped at. There are no signs that warn of curves, intersections, construction or other road manipulations, or directions to any location. Occasionally, there are signs that will identify a village. But, more often than not, these signs are posted after you have passed through the village, not before.
Speed limits vary and are generally not posted, though occasionally one might be found that states 40 kilometers per hour. Basically, the speed limit is however fast or slow one chooses to drive. Several drivers on the island, including bus-transport drivers, drive recklessly fast and show no fear of passing on curves or at the crest of hills. When overtaking, vehicles will pull to within a few feet behind the car to be passed before going around. Fortunately, most honk a warning before and or as they make the attempt.
A good number of cars and trucks have only one or NO tail or brake lights and or only one headlight. Headlights often are not aligned properly and will be shooting off at any angle including directly into the eyes of oncoming drivers. At night, many drivers will not dim their bright lights for any oncoming car. Or, if they do dim them, they will flip back to full bright a split second before meeting the oncoming vehicle – creating a blinding moment at the most inopportune time.
Expect to encounter vehicles parked on either side of the road facing any direction. Expect any driver (especially bus-transports) to unexpectedly stop their vehicles at any moment at any point directly on and or alongside the road, including just the other side of blind curves and over the tops of hills. As well, drivers with vehicles parked alongside the road or at intersections, especially bus-transports, are notorious for pulling out ahead of, cutting off, approaching drivers.
Both day and night, you will experience oncoming cars and trucks flashing their lights and or honking. These signals mean everything from: “…be alert – see me, here I am,” to “…hello, good to see you,” to, ”… I’m really upset with how you are driving.” Other times, the flashing and honking just seems to be some involuntary reflex all drivers share.
Driving in Roseau, Portsmouth and other villages