Driving in Uruguay is a whole different ballgame than driving in the US. I think the funniest joke we’ve heard about the Uruguay taxi drivers is that “They drive like they do because they’re training for jihad…” Okay, that joke is in poor taste, but it’s still funny.
Maybe the drivers are so aggressive because they’re all angry they have to drive a manual transmission through city traffic? I don’t know what the case is, but I have never seen anything like Uruguay driving.
That said, here are the top 7 things to know about Uruguay driving:
- Lines in the road are more of a guideline than a rule. Just because there are only two lanes lined out on the road, don’t be surprised to see 5 cars across the road at the stoplight with a moped sneaking up on the far right side to pass the traffic.
- Bumpers are for bumping. Seriously. If you need a little bit of extra space to park your car or get out of your parking spot, it’s no problem! Just use your bumper to move the car in front of you or behind you out of the way. I was shocked the first time I saw it, but now it’s an everyday occurrence.
- Pedestrians do not have the right of way. Even if the signal says cross, be careful. Just because someone doesn’t have their turn signal on doesn’t mean they aren’t going to make a turn.It seems most Uruguay autos do not observe traffic “laws” they way they do in the US. If they can go, they will, even if that means coming within ½ of an inch of hitting you. This goes for buses too. Keeping the bus schedule is more important than preserving your life.
- Look both ways when crossing the street, even a one-way street. Actually, you better watch the sidewalk you’re walking on carefully too because you just might get hit by a motorcycle if you’re not looking. Again, I’m not joking. Nearly every store and restaurant in Montevideo delivers, and the deliveries are made via motorcycle. Rather than going around the block, the motorcycle delivery drivers will just go the wrong way down a one-way street, or even down the sidewalk to reach their destination in the fastest manner possible.Whether you’re driving or walking down the street, be aware.
- Horns are made to honk! In Jamaica, you hear a lot of horn honking, but it’s a friendly way of saying “Hi” with a quick “beep beep.” In Uruguay, you will find this to be quite the opposite. A lot of people tend to lay on the horn non-stop for minutes at a time.Note to “The Honkers” – Just because you got stuck waiting for someone to park for an extra 60 seconds doesn’t mean you need to give the rest of us a headache. Really, your time is not that important. There is not enough traffic in Montevideo to warrant 1/100th of the horn honking that takes place.
- What’s the speed limit again? Wait, there isn’t one posted. Don’t be surprised to see Uruguay autos reaching speeds of 60 mph (95 kph) on a busy city street.There are 2 types of drivers in Montevideo, the fast ones and the ones who get honked at.A lot of people drive as fast as they possibly can, and then get upset when they have to stop or slow down due to traffic. You’ll often see cars swerve out around traffic, drive down the wrong side of the street and then swerve back over just to get a little bit ahead of the pack. For being so relaxed, Uruguayans sure are in a hurry to reach their destination.
- Who’s that guy in the orange vest? You’ll see what we refer to as parking attendants on pretty much every street in Montevideo. They’re there to watch your car while you go into the restaurant to eat.They’re also there to help you park correctly, so you don’t take up two spaces on the street. Or to help you get out of that parking spot when you just couldn’t do it on your own. Yes, you’re expected to tip these guys. $5 -10 UY Pesos will suffice.A running joke we hear is, “That’s not bad to have a little security for your car… That is, if they aren’t the ones breaking into the car.”
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