Learning Uruguay

Every day brings ????

Driving (part II)

Posted by urufish on May 12, 2007

Recently, our daughter took ill and is being treated about 20 minutes away from where we live.  As a result, we’re putting on double the mileage we were driving before, and we’re going north at 17:00 and coming back at 18:30.  Well, we discovered Montevideo has a rush hour(s)..  just like back home.  Funny thing though is that until a few days ago, it was just busy.  For the last 3 days, (not so much Saturday), it’s down gridlock in 2 or 3 sections of the drive.  Before this, we rarely drove at that time of the day and we found traffic to be refreshingly light, albeit somewhat lawless compared to back home. 

With all this new experience, of congested driving, we’ve learned a few more things about driving here.  First, and foremost, when approaching a busy intersection stay to the side of the road where the cross street traffic is entering.  Most streets here are one way… So if the traffic is coming right to left at the next intersection, get into the right lane.  Hey, now I know why drivers here straddle the lines… They need to decide quickly which side of the road they want to be caught on at a red.  The reason for this is simple.  When the light for the cross traffic switches to red, about 60-75% of the intersection is plugged.  If you’re in the right side of the road, you can proceed.  If not, you’re going to have to push your into that lane, which takes more time :-).

Also, we learned a lot more about the ‘lanelessness’ of Montevideo drivers.  We learned there is no discernable logic or pattern.  It appears more and more to us that it’s simply random.  Drivers just dont care if they’re on or between lines.  Anyone else got a better theory? 

What else did we discover?  Well, motos are darned near impossible to see at night.. double that in the rain.  Drivers aren’t nearly as aggressive as we’ve been told.  Drivers always stop at reds… Drivers frequently take off before the green.  Buses straddle even more often than cars.  There a millions of buses on the road during rush hour(s).  We see a lot more bicycles at rush hour than at other times of the days…  Seems bicycling is more business than pleasure in the city. 

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2 Responses to “Driving (part II)”

  1. Brazzie said

    The lane change in Brazil used to be similar to what you describe. The unwritten rules as I remember were: if you are behind the line of my back bumper YOU should pay attention to what I may do; while I keep track of the people ahead of me. I am not sure it still works that way though.

  2. Irv-

    This is a good case for staying out of the city!

    I’m not sure I would go to the ends of the earth and try to figure this one out. See you on the hill.

    Steve Bowman
    http://www.coastaluruguay.com

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