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Driving in Uruguay
 
 
 

Driving in Uruguay is very similar to European driving, but with fewer traffic lights and lots of roundabouts. North Americans accustomed to wild big-city driving (New York or Los Angeles) will not find it too difficult to adapt to. As in many developing countries and parts of Europe, Uruguayans have a tendency to split lanes or make their own lane. Since manual transmissions take longer to spin up, Uruguayans like to watch for the cross-traffic's yellow light and then jump the green about a second in advance, which means you should never run yellow lights if you can brake safely. Many intersections are marked only with yield signs. If you don't see a sign, treat it as a yield. If you see a stop sign ("Pare"), it means stop, please stop, probably because it's a blind intersection and someone was killed there.

The main toll roads from Colonia del Sacramento to Montevideo and Punta del Este are in good condition and well marked but the standard of roads in the rest of Uruguay varies. Some roads may suddenly deteriorate and certain heavy transport routes where grooves have been formed require extra care, especially in bad weather. These routes are often single lane carriageways where overtaking is difficult.

Uruguay has not yet implemented sensor loops, so all traffic lights are on timers and you will have to sit there regardless of whether the cross-street has traffic. Some local drivers will just run the red after sitting for a few minutes if cross-traffic is non-existent. Right turns on red after stop are not allowed. Headlights must be turned on at all times while moving.

Like much of Latin America, Uruguay has a fondness for giant speed bumps, even in the middle of major roads. These are signed well in advance (especially the ones on major highways) and require drivers to brake to 20 kph or less; failure to brake in time will send one's car flying.

Uruguayan law requires drivers to keep both hands on the steering wheel while moving, which means you cannot use a hand-held cell phone while driving.

The speed limit ranges between 75 kph to 110 kph on most intercity highways, with 90 kph standard on most stretches. Uruguay does not have any long-distance freeways, expressways, or motorways. Some short stretches of Routes 1 and 5 to the west of Montevideo have been upgraded to freeways.

Look out for pedestrians and slow-moving traffic in the roadway, especially in rural areas and poorer suburbs. Because automobiles are so expensive, many Uruguayans get around solely by foot, taxi, scooter, motorcycle, or bus. Like many developing countries, Uruguay lacks the resources to properly maintain sidewalks in poor neighbourhoods, so sidewalks often have cracks, potholes, or worse. Therefore, you will see pedestrians frequently walking in the street even when there appears to be a sidewalk or footpath next to the road.

Although residents of many countries (including the United States) need only their driver's licence to drive in Uruguay, an International Driver's Permit is advisable.

 

 
 

 



 


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