When picking up your rental car
Before setting out, check the car carefully for defects, and make sure your car has a jack and spare tire. As roadside assistance is handled primarily through car rental companies, be sure to ask your rental agent for the most up-to-date emergency number.
When driving a rented car you are generally responsible for any damage to or loss of the vehicle as well as for any property damage or personal injury that you may cause. If you're a visitor from anywhere but the United States, see what coverage your personal auto-insurance policy and credit cards already provide before you rent. U.S. visitors should definitely purchase auto insurance locally.
Most roads are well maintained, and once out of the cities traffic is light. The bad news is that signage is very poor; it's easy to get lost, so get good road maps. The country's main artery, the six-lane Autopista Nacional, runs from Havana to Ciego de Ávila before hitting the two-lane Carretera Central, which runs to El Oriente, the island's eastern portion. The Autopista Nacional also runs westward from Havana into Pinar del Río. Cuba has tolls on some routes; a trip on the Matanzas-Varadero Expressway, for example, costs 2 CUC.
Gas costs about 1 CUC a liter (roughly 4 CUC a gallon). There are state-run Servi-Cupet stations spread out along major routes; many are open 24 hours a day. These stations, which only accept payment in dollars, also sell food and beverages.
Rules on the Road
The minimum age for driving is 21 years. Driving is on the right side of the road and it use standard international traffic signs. Speed limits range from 40 kph (25 mph) around schools to 100 kph (60 mph) on main highways. As anywhere, avoid drinking and driving. Cuba's police force is efficient by Caribbean and Latin American standards. Note that any fines you incur for traffic violations will be deducted from your rental car deposit.
Hitchhiking is a main mode of transportation in Cuba. Although you should exercise caution about picking people up, note that most hitchhikers are ordinary folk, simply trying to get to work or pay a visit to relatives. Sharing the ride with them will put you in greater touch with the country and get you some much-needed navigational assistance.
Most of the Cuban cities have a New York City-style grid plan with numbered and lettered intersecting streets and avenues.
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