Cuba is in the news, and I understand from private jet operators, it has already been the site of corporate meetings. Before you or one of your employees get behind the wheel of a car in Cuba, you will want to read this column:
U.S. citizens are now free to visit Cuba for purposes of business or cultural exchange only. Unlike Canadians and Europeans, who have flocked to the Caribbean island as tourists since the 1990s, Americans are still not free to travel to Cuba for recreational purposes. However, this too will surely change soon.
Like many other countries where we work, the single most dangerous activity for foreign visitors to Cuba is travel by motor vehicle. As the number of cars has increased over the last few years, incidents involving motor vehicles are now the leading cause of accidental death in the country.
If that statistic isn’t enough to make foreigners think twice about how they travel in-country, they should also consider a few more things:
- Drivers involved in traffic accidents risk up to 10 years in prison if they are considered guilty of causing death or serious harm.
- Rental car drivers are not allowed to leave the country until all claims are settled after an accident in which they were involved. Even if the driver is a foreigner who requires medical attention best delivered in his or her home country.
- Although main roads in major urban areas are usually in decent shape, secondary roads are often not. Potholes abound, signage is poor, and anything and everything in addition to cars frequent the roads.
- Driving in rural areas demands extreme attentiveness at all times, and is not recommended at night, period. Pedestrians, bikes, mopeds, horse carts and tractors might all appear suddenly on the road – as does livestock. Roads are poorly lit, and neither bikes, mopeds or old cars can be counted on to have suitable lights or reflectors.