Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
While in Suriname, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Traffic moves on the left in Suriname; left-hand-drive (U.S. style) vehicles also are allowed on the road. Excessive speed, unpredictable driving habits by both vehicles and motorcyclists/bicycles, unusual right of way patterns, poorly maintained roads, and a lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles are daily hazards on Surinamese roads. Seatbelts have been required for all automobile passengers since January 2007, and drivers must use a hands-free device if using a mobile phone while driving; driving while talking on cell phones is illegal in Suriname. Visitors are encouraged to use automobiles equipped with seatbelts and to avoid the use of motorcycles or scooters. An international driver's license is necessary to rent a car. Visitors renting a car in Suriname should be aware that child seats are required by law.
The major roads in Paramaribo are usually paved, but are not always well maintained. Large potholes are common on city streets, especially during the rainy season, which lasts from approximately mid-November to January, and from April to July (rainy seasons can differ from year to year by as much as six weeks). Roads often are not marked with traffic lines. Many main thoroughfares do not have sidewalks, forcing pedestrians, motorcycles and bicycle traffic to share the same space.
The East-West Highway, a paved road that stretches from Nieuw Nickerie in the west to Albina in the east, runs through extensive agricultural areas; it is not uncommon to encounter slow-moving farm traffic or animals on the road. Travelers should exercise caution when driving to and from Nieuw Nickerie at night due to poor lighting and sharp road turns without adequate warning signs. There are few service stations along the road, and western-style rest stops are non-existent. The road is not always well maintained, and during the rainy season, large and sometimes impassable sinkholes develop along the road. Police recommend that you check with the police station in Albina for the latest safety information regarding travel between Paramaribo and Albina.
Roads in the interior are sporadically maintained dirt roads that pass through rugged, sparsely populated rain forest. Some roads are passable for sedans in the dry season, but deteriorate rapidly during the rainy season. Interior roads are not lit and there are no service stations or emergency call boxes. Bridges in the interior are in various states of repair. You are advised to consult with local sources, including The Foundation for Nature Conservation in Suriname, or STINASU, at telephone (597) 421-683 or 476-579, or with their hotels regarding interior road conditions before proceeding.
For specific information concerning Surinamese driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Embassy of Suriname in Washington, D.C. or the Consulate of Suriname in Miami.
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