You don´t have to spend much time in Buenos Aires to notice how chaotic the traffic is, and as is typical in many Latin countries, the drivers can be pretty crazy. What most people don´t know, is that Argentina has the highest accident rate in the WORLD, nearly double that of the United States. If you are going to be driving in Buenos Aires, there are some important things you should know.
Lanes do not exist
Drivers weave freely in and out of traffic, and have no problem driving in the middle of a lane. When you are driving, just ignore the lanes, because that is what everyone else does. Wherever you fit is where you can go, and where you can expect to see other cars, buses, or scooters.
Buses are even worse than cars
Watch out for hyper aggressive bus drivers. They are big, and they use that to “throw their weight” around. They tend to start moving into a lane and expect you to let them.
Pedestrians will cross wherever and whenever
Jaywalking is rampant in Buenos Aires, so watch out for pedestrians crossing wherever they feel like. A large majority of pedestrians will not follow street signs at all…they cross when there are no cars coming, not when the light is green. They know that most cars will freely run them over, so will usually wait to cross until after you have driven by, but it is good to be careful.
You cannot turn right on a red light
Just a warning for you Canadians.
Bikes and scooters will weave in and out and do not often follow the traffic lights
It is important to watch out for them, because they will try to pass in between cars, and usually come up pretty quick. Be sure to check your mirrors and blind spots for them. They will usually signal that they are coming from behind with a horn, but that is not always the case.
Porteños love to run red-lights
During busy traffic, Porteños will go through lights shortly after they have turned red, and will start to go through a light before it is green. If it is night time, or even during the day in a part with little traffic, they may drive through a solid red light just so they don´t have to wait.
In most countries, if you approach an uncontrolled intersection you should yield to the person on your right. This is how it’s supposed to be in Argentina as well. However, this is not at all how it works. Sometimes the drivers will yield to those on their right; however, more commonly drivers will slow down as they approach the intersection, and will take turns going through. You never really know when to go through, you just have to go when the other car is not going.
You can´t drive in Buenos Aires without being aggressive. You need to learn how to drive aggressively yet safely. You may call this assertive driving, though in my opinion, assertive driving is not enough in Buenos Aires. You have to be more aggressive than that.
If you are outside of Buenos Aires driving on highways, you need to be even more careful. This is where most fatalities happen, and the reason becomes quite evident when you leave the city. The Argentines are extremely reckless drivers on highways, especially single lane highways. Don´t be surprised when you see five cars all at once passing two semis in a row, going around a corner on a single lane highway with a solid yellow line (meaning don´t pass). I am not exaggerating, because I have seen this happen. The drivers will pass when they think they can, not when they are allowed to. They are not worried about near misses, and don´t mind trying to pass, and then pulling back into their lane at the last moment when they realize they won´t make it. Once you have experienced this, it is easy to understand why they have such a high accident rate! Highway driving is definitely dangerous here, but as long as you are aware of the dangers you can prevent many accidents by being alert.
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