10 Safety Tips for Driving in Tonga
10 Safety Tips for Driving in Tonga

10 Safety Tips for Driving in Tonga

(c) tongapocketguide.com

Keep Safe While Driving in Tonga

Road tripping around Tongatapu or Vava’u (the only islands in Tonga where you can hire a car) is an amazing way to see the country. However, driving in a new country is always a stressful thought. With low speed limits, limited urban areas and limited traffic on the road outside of urban areas, Tonga is actually an easy-going country to drive in. You just need to keep in mind a few things, which we go through in these safety tips for driving in Tonga.

For more advice on driving, be sure to check out How to Drive in Tonga. Plus, more safety tips can be found in Is it Safe to Drive in Tonga?

1. Drive on the Left Side of the Road

Traffic moves on the left side of the road in Tonga. While it might seem like an obvious tip to drive on the left side of the road, it’s important to keep reminding yourself if you come from a country where you drive on the right. Remind yourself when pulling out of an intersection or when getting back in the car after having a break from driving. You’ll get used to it in no time! For more road rules and driving tips, see Is it Easy to Drive in Tonga?

10 Safety Tips for Driving in Tonga(c) tongapocketguide.com

2. Watch Out for Animals on the Road

When driving in Tongatapu, you’ll likely see dogs and chickens on or around the roads. In Vava’u, it’s all of that plus pigs, pigs and more pigs! While animals will often move out of the road when cars approach, it’s best to slow down so you have time to respond safely.

10 Safety Tips for Driving in Tonga(c) tongapocketguide.com

3. Don’t Park Under a Coconut Tree

While the shade of a coconut tree can be a tempting place to park your car, it comes are the risk of a dented roof or cracked windscreen from falling coconuts. It’s more of a damage concern for your rental vehicle, rather than safety. However, it’s claimed that coconuts do take the lives of around 150 people each year by falling on their head, so you want to reduce those odds!

10 Safety Tips for Driving in Tonga(c) tongapocketguide.com

4. Stick to the Speed Limit

The speed limits are very conservative in Tonga, typically being around 50km/h (30mph) in villages and 70km/h (45mph) outside of urban areas. Speed limits are typically signposted in regular intervals along the roadsides in Tonga, so be sure to observe them. You’ll also find that a lot of Tongans drive very slowly, so be patient and only overtake when it’s completely safe to do so. Otherwise, just enjoy island time.

10 Safety Tips for Driving in Tonga(c) tongapocketguide.com

5. Take Extra Care on Gravel or Dirt Roads

While the main roads in Tonga are generally well-maintained sealed roads, you will find a few less desirable side roads. These are typically gravel roads, unmaintained sealed roads with potholes or straight-up dirt roads. If you approach one of the rougher dirt roads in Tonga, be sure to judge whether your car can make the journey before attempting the drive. Sometimes, it’s just best to park up and walk the rest of the way, which you’ll especially find for some of the attractions in Tongatapu.

10 Safety Tips for Driving in Tonga(c) tongapocketguide.com

6. Inspect Rental Vehicles Before Agreeing to Hire

It’s often said that Tonga is where vehicles go to die. While many of the car rental vehicles do have semi-recent exports, others have very old vehicles. When hiring a car, make sure it has a valid Warrant of Fitness displayed on the windscreen and that the registration is up-to-date. Ask to do a test drive if you need to. If you have any doubts about the safety of the vehicle, move onto the next car rental company – we list a few in The Best Car Rentals in Tonga.

10 Safety Tips for Driving in Tonga(c) tongapocketguide.com

7. Give Way to Vehicles Turning Right

One of the road rules that surprises many visitors is giving way to vehicles that are turning right. So if a vehicle is waiting to turn off, crossing your side of the road, you should slow down/stop allowing them to do so.

10 Safety Tips for Driving in Tonga(c) tongapocketguide.com

8. Don’t Drink and Drive

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is strictly prohibited in Tonga. The blood alcohol limit for driving in Tonga is 0.015%. If you’re found with alcohol on your breath, you might be taken for more testing. On a similar note, don’t drink kava and drive. While it’s still unclear where kava does affect driving capabilities, it’s best not to risk it.

10 Safety Tips for Driving in Tonga(c) tongapocketguide.com

9. Wear Your Seatbelt

It’s a no-brainer: no matter what country you’re driving in, you should always wear a seatbelt. Not only should you wear a seatbelt for your safety, but insurance companies also will not cover you if you’re in an accident when not wearing a seatbelt.

10 Safety Tips for Driving in Tonga(c) tongapocketguide.com

10. Lock Your Car and Hide Your Valuables

Even in a friendly country like Tonga, there are petty thieves. Don’t attract theft of your rental car or your belongings by making sure to lock your door when leaving the vehicle unattended. Plus, hide any valuables or take them with you. See more safety tips in How to Keep Safe in Tonga.

10 Safety Tips for Driving in Tonga(c) tongapocketguide.com

More Safety Tips for Driving in Tonga

That’s it for our safety driving tips for Tonga. Be sure to bookmark our Tonga Transport Guide: 10 Ways to Get Around Tonga for even more transport tips.

Author

Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of Tonga Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in the South Pacific over 10 years ago with nothing but a backpack and a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to explore a paradise such as Tonga. She knows the islands inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience Tonga’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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