15 Safety Tips for Driving in Fiji: Driving Hazards to Avoid & Road Rules
1. Drive On the Left Side of the Road
When driving in Fiji, it’s important to note that the country follows a left-hand drive system, which is similar to the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. This is because of its colonial history under the British Empire. Driving on the left side of the road is a unique experience, but don’t worry, it won’t take long to get used to it. Just make sure to keep to the left side of the road to avoid any accidents while driving in Fiji.
2. Know the Speed Limits
When driving in Fiji, it’s important to know the speed limits. The maximum speed limit on main highways outside of cities is 80km/h (50mph), while the speed limit is 50km/h (30mph) in cities, towns, and villages. When approaching a city, the speed limit may be reduced to 60km/h (40mph). Be sure to follow these speed limits to ensure safe driving.
3. Watch Out for Animals on the Road
Fiji is known for its abundant wildlife, which includes animals that may wander onto the road. Livestock like cattle and horses may graze on the sides of the road or even cross the street, so it’s important to be cautious and slow down when approaching these hazards. Dogs are also common and tend to move out of the way of cars. Additionally, people may walk on the side of the road, especially in villages where there may be a lack of footpaths.
4. Watch Out for People on the Road Too
In Fiji, it’s not uncommon for locals to walk on the road or very close to moving traffic. As a driver, it’s important to slow down and be aware of pedestrians, especially in villages where people may walk on the side of the road due to the lack of footpaths. Don’t expect them to move out of the way for traffic, so be alert and cautious while driving.
5. Keep an Eye on Other Drivers
When driving in Fiji, it is important to keep an eye on other drivers, as locals have been known to drive inconsistently. While some drivers may be slow and cautious, others may have a heavy foot on the accelerator. To combat this, Fijian authorities have increased the use of speed cameras, speed bumps, and police presence in order to keep reckless driving in check. Visitors should also be aware of drivers stopping suddenly, overtaking on blind corners, and not always sticking to the left side of the road when navigating bends. To stay safe, it is recommended that visitor drivers remain alert and cautious while on the road, obey speed limits or drive slower, and be prepared to respond to unexpected situations.
6. Be Prepared for Basic Roads
When driving in Fiji, it’s important to be aware that the majority of the roads are two-lane sealed countryside roads. Unlike some countries, there are no huge American-style highways. Although the roads are regularly upgraded to reduce potholes, there are still more potholes than what you might be used to if you are from a more developed country. As a result, it’s important to slow down when approaching potholes in order to maintain control of the vehicle.
7. Overtake Carefully
When driving in Fiji, overtaking should be done with great caution as many of the roads are winding and only have two lanes. Even though the maximum speed limit is 80km/h, many locals drive slower, so it is sometimes better to go with the flow and enjoy the “Fiji time” rather than constantly overtaking. It is important to stay alert and aware of other vehicles on the road and only overtake when it is safe to do so.
8. Be Prepared for Driving on Unsealed Roads
When planning a trip to Fiji, it’s important to know that the country has around 7,500km (4,660 miles) of roads, with only 1,700km (1,056 miles) of them being sealed. While sealed roads are common in coastal towns and villages of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, and along the Queens Road and Kings Road between Nadi and Suva, around 5,800km (3,600 miles) of roads are unsealed, making driving a bit more challenging for those who are not used to gravel or dirt roads. Driving on gravel roads is easy as long as you drive slowly and carefully, while dirt roads are best attempted in a 4WD vehicle. So, if you’re planning to drive on unsealed roads in Fiji, make sure you’re well-prepared and have the right vehicle for the job.
9. Be Extra Careful When Driving After Dark
When driving in Fiji, it is important to exercise caution, especially when driving at night. The lack of lighting on the roads outside of the main towns can make it difficult to see hazards, such as animals and potholes. It is recommended that visitors avoid driving outside of towns after dark to ensure their safety.
10. And When Driving in Wet Conditions
When driving in Fiji during wet conditions, it is important to take extra caution as the rain can make the roads more slippery and decrease visibility, making it harder to see and navigate the potholes. Fiji being a tropical country experiences heavy rainfall frequently, which can make the dirt roads slick and more difficult to drive on. Drivers are advised to slow down and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles on the road to prevent accidents. It is also recommended to have good quality tires and functioning wipers to ensure a safe driving experience in wet conditions.
11. Know How to Use Roundabouts
If you’re an American visitor, you might not be used to driving on roundabouts in Fiji. But don’t worry, roundabouts are used in Fiji just like in many other countries. When you approach a roundabout, you should give way to the vehicles on your right.
12. Don’t Use Your Phone When Driving
It is illegal to use a phone while driving in Fiji due to the high risk of distraction. This is particularly dangerous when driving on unfamiliar roads, so leave any phone duties to your co-pilot or pull over in a safe location if you need to use your phone.
13. Wear Your Seat-Belt
When driving in Fiji, it is important to prioritize safety, and wearing your seat belt is a key aspect of that. This applies not only to the driver but also to any passengers in the car. Most rental car companies in Fiji offer baby seats for hire, so make sure to use them to ensure the safety of your little ones.
14. Plan Extra Time
Fiji’s low speed limits, unsealed roads, and numerous hazards mean that you should always plan extra time for any trips you are taking. Additionally, the stunning scenery and the fact that everyone is on “Fiji time” means that you will likely want to make some stops along the way. Always assume that the drive will take longer than expected, but embrace the relaxed pace and enjoy the journey.
15. Lock It or Lose It
As with anywhere in the world, it is important to keep your car locked when you leave it unattended in Fiji. Although theft is not common, rental cars may be targeted as a sign of wealth, so taking the necessary precautions is essential to prevent any potential theft or loss.