The popular image of a Sri Lanka driver is of a tall, handsome man, with a muscular body, red tans, blue eyes, and lots of gold in his hair. This image is an all too common one for foreigners to associate with the country and it is for this reason that I’d like to debunk some myths about the Sri Lankan driver experience.
Firstly, it should be noted that the average Sri Lankan driver is not necessarily a wealthy man or someone with an extravagant wardrobe. In fact, there are many Sri Lankan drivers who are quite poor and live in small homes which they rent out to foreign motorists. This being said, not all Sri Lanka drivers are like this.
Many drivers that work on Sri Lanka’s main roads are quite humble and make less than a decent wage. Many make less than a dollar per day!
Most of the drivers that you will come across on Sri Lanka’s main roads are from rural areas and as such, rarely have time to go shopping. They are highly motivated to drive around in a foreign car, so are happy to offer you a lift where you need it.
Sri Lanka is a tourist destination and the majority of Sri Lankans who come here do so for sightseeing purposes. Therefore, you will be dealing with a lot of very welcoming people who can help you with any questions you might have. It is a place where the majority of tourists will want to show off their Sri Lankan roots and so the drivers will be more than happy to accommodate you in any way possible.
If you are the first Sri Lanka driver you come across, you will have to get their driver’s permission to get on their vehicle. This can be difficult, as most drivers require your Sri Lankan citizenship to legally drive in the country. As a Sri Lankan citizen, you must also know that there are a number of laws regarding driving that do not allow you to drive on your own – these include speeding, being drunk, and driving when your car has broken down.
Once you have received their driver’s consent and have taken your seat in their car, you can start the journey. You are advised to inform the Sri Lankan driver of your exact location and what type of vehicle you are driving, as they will be much happier if you are able to find out this information before they start driving.
In many cases, you may have your food served by the Sri Lankan driver, so be prepared. There is no drinking allowed whilst on Sri Lanka’s roads and many of the roads have speed cameras in place so it is advisable to put your speed limit at a comfortable and reasonable level.
Travelling on Sri Lanka’s roads is certainly not the cheapest option, but it is certainly not the most expensive either. In fact, the best prices are often found when travelling in groups, as the driver for the entire group is charged a fixed amount per person per journey.
Be sure to choose your car insurance wisely and ensure that you have cover for the entire length of your journey. This way you can be sure that if you are involved in an accident, your insurers will take care of the costs.
It is important to remember that, on most occasions, drivers on Sri Lanka’s roads are required to wear seat belts, as they are at greater risk of road accidents than other road users. While most Sri Lanka drivers are not good drivers, it is important to ensure that you never feel behind the wheel that you are driving without a seatbelt.
In conclusion, I hope that the above has given you a few good tips on how to drive in Sri Lanka. Although the Sri Lanka driver is typically portrayed as a tough, ambitious gentleman, he is actually extremely helpful and courteous.