The Cayman Islands first new set of driving rules in nearly 40 years, known as the “road code”, has been made public and contains some 85 pages of “how to” instructions for motorists.
Some of the road code rules are pretty basic stuff, but some of the items are important to drivers for life, safety and legal reasons.
All Cayman Islands drivers are required to stop and give certain information to “anyone having reasonable grounds for requiring” that information, according to the code.
That exchange must occur by law after any accident involving injury to a person or animal [animal is defined as horse, cattle, donkey, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog], or damage to property or the vehicle itself – more or less any accident where damage or injury happens.
The information required for exchange includes the driver’s name and date of birth, the vehicle owner’s name and address, the vehicle registration number and the name of the vehicle’s insurer.
“If, for whatever reason, you do not give your name, address and date of birth at the scene of the accident, you must report the accident to a police officer or a police station as soon as reasonably practicable and, in any case, within 24 hours,” the road code states.
Failure to stop and give information after an accident can lead to a $2,000 fine and up to a one year prison sentence upon conviction.
Trailer towing, overloads
Trailer safety requirements, as well as safety measures that must be taken for oversize load hauling, are set forth in the road code.
Trailers include boat, horse, utility and dump trailers, as well as cement mixers.
Licence and registration documents must be posted where they are visible on the back of the trailer being hauled. Two independent braking systems – for the vehicle and for the trailer – are required as well.
The driving code recommends the normal “two second rule” [following at least two seconds behind a vehicle while on the road] should be extended to four seconds when hauling a trailer. Overloading a trailer, according to manufacturer’s standards is an offence.
Ad hoc towing, such as using a rope to tow another vehicle, is not recommended by the road code; however, it is not illegal.
“Towing your vehicle with a rope or other devices can be potentially dangerous to yourself or other road users,” the code states.
Oversize loads or “overhanging loads”, as they are described in the road code, must be marked with a red flag on each side of the vehicle where the load projects outside the vehicle profile. By night, those oversize loads must be marked with lights on the front, rear and sides.
Where the overhanging load exceeds three feet on any side of the vehicle beyond its profile, that trailer or hauler will require a police escort.
The code reasserts that it is the law in the Cayman Islands to pull over or otherwise make way for emergency vehicles.
“Drivers must pull in to the left-hand side of the road and, if necessary, come to and remain at a halt until the emergency vehicle has proceeded on its way or has stopped,” the road code states.
An emergency vehicle means fire engines, ambulance, or police vehicles.
‘Night’ is defined as 30 minutes after sunset up through 30 minutes before sunrise in the road code.
Vehicle headlights are required to be illuminated between sunset and sunrise, the code states.
Drivers using high beams on their vehicles must dim those beams in certain situations, including; when traffic is approaching, when following another vehicle, when parked on the roadside, where a police officer is directing traffic or when approaching pedestrians.
“Only flash your headlights to let other road users know you are there,” the road code states. “Do not flash your headlights to convey any message or intimidate other road users.”
The road code hasn’t left out bicyclists and requires, among other things, that a helmet be worn and that both hands should remain on the bike’s handlebar unless the operator is signalling for a turn or changing gears.
Riders are required to stay in single-file on narrow or busy streets, including roundabouts. Reflective lights, white in the front and red in the rear, are require and must be visible up to 50 yards at night.
Bicyclists must ride two abreast in areas where they “will not obstruct the reasonable flow of traffic or where a cycle lane is provided”.
No pillion passenger, or additional passenger, is allowed on a bicycle unless it was specially manufactured for that purpose.
The road code sets out a number of scenarios in which drivers should not overtake.
Those include; on a solid white centre line, where there is a white dotted centre line but it is unsafe to do so, where there is a solid double yellow line or a solid single yellow line at the centre of the road.
Also, overtaking a school bus that has stopped and is displaying flashing lights is illegal.
Other areas where overtaking is prohibited include; near a pedestrian crossing, near a school crossing, on a narrow road, near road construction or where traffic is backed up near junctions or road works and on a bend in the road.
Drivers being overtaken should maintain a steady speed or slow down to facilitate passing. “Never obstruct drivers who wish to pass,” the code states.