Opinion: Something to think aboutPOSTED: 01/2/14 1:12 AM
The bulk of St. Maarten’s tourists come from the United States. It’s by far our largest market. Add to that the growing number of Canadians that are visiting St. Maarten and you can confidently say that North America in general provides us with the largest amount of sun worshippers looking to escape the winter blues.
It goes without saying that there are different traffic rules in different countries and the onus on knowing those rules lies with the driver, regardless of whether they are from that country or not. When you arrive in the United Kingdom, you immediately noticed that people drive on the left side of the road. But because the UK’s capital London is one of the most international cities in the world, the British go out of their way to make sure their visitors are comfortable and don’t get hurt, especially when crossing the street. On most major intersections in the city, the roads are painted with the phrase “look right” and they have signs posted to help foreigners who are not accustomed to the unique traffic situation. It’s a thoughtful touch.
We’ve noticed that many North Americans have trouble with our roundabouts. That is understandable since they are hardly or never used in the US or Canada. The roundabout system is a European way of dealing with intersections. Quite often they will enter without yielding to drivers on the inside. To compound matters, the reverse is the rule on the French side! Drivers inside the roundabout must yield to those entering.
It would be prudent of St. Maarten, in particular the Ministry of Transportation, perhaps in cooperation with other ministries and government assets like the port and airport, to create or provide brief and simple information on how to properly use roundabouts on St. Maarten. It would go a long way in enhancing our tourism product, our image as a friendly destination, and also increase road safety in general. It’s something to think about.