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Driving in Venezuela
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Driving in Venezuela

Venezuela has suffered heavy rains over the last few years and this has affected road conditions. Shanty towns built on hillsides are particularly vulnerable to landslides. Several bridges and some inter-state roads in Venezuela have been badly damaged, with some bridges now being impassable. Seek local advice before you set out, leave plenty of time for your journey, and stick to the main roads. The most heavily affected states are Aragua, Carabobo, Capital District (Caracas) and Falcon.

Outside the major cities, night driving can be dangerous because of unmarked road damage, repairs in progress, unlighted vehicles, and livestock. It is a common practice to ignore red traffic lights in the evening. Even in urban areas, road damage is often marked by a pile of rocks or sticks left by passers-by near or in the pothole or crevice, without flares or other devices to highlight the danger. Many roads are unsafe as rock slides are common.

Traffic in Venezuela drives on the right unless overtaking; give way to traffic coming on to a roundabout. Drivers frequently top 160 kmh (100 mph) on intercity highways. Laws requiring car occupants to wear seat belts are not always complied with. Traffic lights are often ignored, especially at night, not for lack of patience, but because drivers do not like to stop theirs cars, as they can be robbed while stopped.

Traffic jams are common within Caracas (regardless of the hour) and are frequently exploited by criminals. Armed motorcycle gangs often operate in traffic jams and tend to escape easily. Cases of armed robbery by motorcyclists and theft of other motorcycles have increased and may result in death if the victim does not comply.

You can drive in Venezuela using your country's driving licence for up to a year (do check with the relevant Venezuelan authority to be sure). After that you will need to get a Venezuelan driving licence. Make sure you have copies of insurance documents, driving licence and passport with you at all times. Failure to produce documents can result in your vehicle being seized by the police.

There are regular police and National Guard checkpoints throughout the country. Drive slowly through these and stop if asked to do so. There have been reports of attempts by the police and National Guard to extract bribes. Ask for a written record giving details of the offence and the officer’s details.

Driving under the influence of alcohol is common, especially during weekends. Many vehicles are in poor condition and drivers routinely ignore red lights. in the event of an accident, both vehicles must remain in the position of the accident until a traffic police officer arrives. Insurance companies won’t pay claims on vehicles that have been moved without a police accident report.





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