Is it safe to drive in Belize?

Belize has long attracted visitors who prefer to explore off-route and don’t want to rely on shuttle services or private transfers to get around. But driving in a new country can be intimidating, and if you haven’t been there before, you may have a lot of questions.

Most people’s first question is, “How safe is it to drive in Belize?” – and it’s okay to ask. While driving here is overwhelmingly safe, there are some differences between highways in the United States and Belize that are worth knowing before you travel.

How is the road quality in Belize?

A safety concern in Belize is the state of the roads. They are paved in some areas, but not all, so road travel can be a bumpy ride. Fortunately, the road between Belize City and Hopkins is almost entirely paved – and you can also enjoy the Hummingbird Highway, Belize’s most famous (and scenic) road, along the way.

Driving at night is not recommended in Belize. If nothing else, potholes become hard to see in the dark, detrimental to your rental. Belize also uses “topes,” or speed bumps, for speed enforcement, and hitting one of those at high speed is another guaranteed suspension killer. It’s best to stick to daytime driving when you can see exactly what to avoid!

It is worth noting that seat belts are only mandatory for people riding in the front seats of a car. People in the back don’t have to wear them, but they probably should for safety.

Pedestrians in Belize

Jaywalking is not a crime in Belize, so another potential safety issue to consider is pedestrians on the road – people can sometimes appear out of nowhere. Pedestrians aren’t much of a problem on quieter roads, but in built-up areas, where people tend to cut behind parked vehicles to cross the road, accidents can easily happen.

The night is also more dangerous when it comes to pedestrians, as the roads are often dimly lit, making people virtually invisible. If you must drive at night, take your time and be aware of your surroundings to maximize safety.

Car rental Belize

If you decide to rent a vehicle in Belize, you will need a driver’s license or international driver’s license and you must be at least 18 years old.

Due to the questionable state of Belize’s roads, it’s best to rent a four-wheel drive vehicle if possible. This ensures that if you get to a tricky place, or if you drive on unpaved roads, your car can handle it without any problems.

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Also make sure you purchase a suitable insurance package and check exactly what is covered, as you may be expected to pay upfront for damage caused by hitting a pothole or being hit by flying debris, for example.

Another thing to check is if your rental company will send a mechanic if you break down. Many companies will, especially the big international brands. But others don’t, and you don’t want to be stranded somewhere in the countryside without easy access to help.

If you keep all of these pieces of advice in mind, driving in Belize can be an exciting, rewarding – and safe – experience, giving you the freedom to explore in a way you’ll never forget.