Essential Safety Tips You Need to Know When Driving in Samoa
Road-tripping around the islands of Samoa is an amazing way to see the country. However, driving in a new country is always a stressful thought. With low speed limits and limited traffic control outside of Apia, Samoa is actually an easygoing country to drive in. You just need to keep in mind a few things and be aware of a few hazards, which we go through in these safety tips for driving in Samoa.
While you’re here, be sure to also open How to Drive in Samoa + 10 Road Rules You Need to Know so you’re aware of some of the important rules of the road.
1. Drive on the Left Side of the Road
Traffic moves on the left side of the road in Samoa. While it might seem like an obvious tip, it’s important to keep reminding yourself if you come from a country where you drive on the right. Remind yourself to drive on the left 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!
Note that there can be a few road rules that take some getting used to when driving on the left side of the road, such as who gives way at roundabouts and uncontrolled T-intersections. We have more tips on these in How to Drive in Samoa + 10 Road Rules You Need to Know.
2. Take it Easy and Stick to the Speed Limit
Don’t be “that guy” that drives around like they’re still in Auckland or Sydney traffic! The speed limits are pretty low in Samoa: a maximum of 56 kmh (35 mph) outside of Apia and villages but much slower everywhere else. Driving at a leisurely pace also allows you time to react to the many hazards that are on Samoa’s roads – more on those throughout this list of safety tips!
As one bonus safety tip; Samoa’s roads are not well-lit (if lit at all), so keep your speed low especially at night.
3. Watch Out for Children on the Road
One of many hazards on the roads of Samoa is children! The kids of Samoa aren’t afraid to rule the roads once school is out, so look out for school signs and slow down when approaching a school. Once the day gets cooler, you’ll also see plenty of children playing on the sides of the roads (usually around 4 pm or 5 pm). With that, they can run out onto the roads without warning, so stay diligent and be prepared to stop if necessary.
That said, there are also many grown adults walking alongside the roads of Samoa too, so slow down for them too.
Although not an official road rule, it’s customary in Samoa to give a couple of quick sounds to the horn before driving past someone on the roads, just to make them aware you are there.
4. Watch Out for Animals on the Road
Another regular hazard on the roads is animals of all kinds! Be wary of dogs and pigs running (or plodding, as the case may be) across the road. Slow down and let the animals pass by unscathed – remember, most of them are people’s pets!
5. Be Mindful of the Buses
Not exactly hard to miss, the buses of Samoa are flamboyant suited-up monstrosities that make their rounds along the main roads. When you’re behind a bus, remember that they will make frequent stops. Be extra mindful of off-loading passengers and especially school children who may run across the road. You can overtake buses when it is safe to do so.
6. Wear a Seatbelt (Even if it’s Not Breaking the Law)
That’s right, only drivers and passengers sitting at the front of the vehicle are permitted to wear a seatbelt by law. It is not even mandatory for children to use a child seat as long as they are sat in the backseat. All that said, it is your responsibility to keep you and your family safe, so when a car rental company offers a baby/child seat for your younger ones; take it! In fact, we recommend asking to look at the state of the baby seats before agreeing to hire, as some car rental companies only have one seat which first, is not always available and second, isn’t always in safe working order.
We list car rental companies that have child seats available in all of our car rental comparisons, starting with the 10 Best Car Rentals in Samoa.
7. Don’t Leave Valuables in Your Vehicle Unattended
Unfortunately, the most common crime affecting tourists in Samoa is petty theft. With that in mind, make sure you don’t leave valuable items, like money, your camera, passport, phone or wallet on display in your car. Take them with you or hide your valuables and remember to lock your vehicle.
For more advice on keeping safe, check out our Samoa Safety Tips.
8. Take Extra Care When Driving on Unsealed Roads
Most of the roads you’ll be using in Samoa are sealed roads that are in relatively good condition. There are a few instances on these islands, especially the access roads to some resorts, beaches and attractions, where roads are unsealed and not well maintained. Drive extra carefully on these roads and watch out for loose gravel and potholes.
9. 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 than safety. However, it’s claimed that coconuts take the lives of around 150 people each year by falling on their heads, so you want to reduce those odds!
10. If You Get in an Accident…
… The Samoa National Road Code published by the Samoa Police advises that you should take the following steps:
- “Stop your vehicle. If it is unsafe to do so, drive to the nearest police station to report the accident. Any accident should be reported within 24 hours
- Check if there are any injuries. If so, take the injured person to the nearest hospital or medical centre.
- If there are no injuries. Give your name, address, registration details of the vehicle and the name and address of the owner (or rental company) to any police officer or other person concerned.”
More Tips for Driving in Samoa
That’s it for our most important safety tips for driving in Samoa. For more driving tips, take a look at the following guides:
- How to Drive in Samoa + 10 Road Rules You Need to Know
- Samoa Safety Tips: Is it Safe to Travel to Samoa?
- What You Need to Hire a Car in Samoa
Finally, get more advice for exploring the islands from the 30 Tips for Travelling in Samoa.