Traffic and Road Conditions in Micronesia

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions

While in FSM, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Most roads in the FSM are in terrible condition. Though rare, when traffic accidents do happen, they often result in fatalities. The information below concerning the FSM is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Speed limits throughout the FSM are very low: 20 miles per hour (mph) in most places; 15 mph in school zones when children are present. However, the “normal” driving speed is considerably lower; it is not uncommon for drivers to drive at 5 to 10 mph, even when there is no traffic.

Driving is on the right-hand side of the road, as in the United States. However, the majority of vehicles in FSM are right-hand drive vehicles imported from Japan; they are not designed to operate on the FSM road network. Drivers in these vehicles do not have an optimum field of vision, which can interfere with driving manoeuvres and the driver's ability to establish visual contact with other road users.

Most roads are narrow and without sidewalks, creating hazards for both drivers and the FSM’s numerous pedestrians. Most roads are in very poor condition, with potholes and little or no shoulder to pull to the side. Roads outside towns are mostly unpaved. All roads are used simultaneously by pedestrians, playing children, animals, and vehicles. Road conditions can worsen significantly after heavy rains, which occur frequently.

There is no formal training in road safety or driving, so many drivers are mof road safety rules. Drivers often make sudden turns or stop without warning to chat with or pick up pedestrians. Taxis are available in state capitals, but you should always be careful since many taxi drivers are reckless. Drunk drivers can create serious hazards, particularly on weekend evenings and holidays. Motorcyclists are required by law to wear helmets, though this is rarely enforced. If you intend to be a resident to the FSM, you should acquire a local driver’s license with the State Police. In most cases, the police will issue a local license to anyone who presents a U.S. driver’s license. If you will be in the FSM temporarily, a U.S. driver’s license itself is sufficient to rent a car and drive for the duration of your visit.

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