Brazil travel guide



Brazil Travel Guide

Driving and car rental in Brazil

It is generally accepted that tourists should not hire cars in Brazil unless they know what they're doing! Road safety in Brazil is not the best in the world, and the standard of driving here leaves a lot to be desired. However, there are a number of car hire agencies operating in Brazil, so if you want to rent a car here it is feasible. But, do travel/drive with a good map and plenty of water.

The atlas called "Guia de Estradas" can be bought in several newstands. It provides not only maps and distances but also information about current conditions of the roads (which can be indeed very bad). There are the usual car rental companies at the airports. A car is a good idea if you want to explore scenic areas, e.g. the historic cities of Minas Gerais, the Rio-Santos highway, or the beaches in North-East Brazil.

Driving anywhere in Brazil requires a maximum amount of attention. In a recent year, Brazilians won first, second, and third place at the Indy 500 auto race -- which should give you an idea on how they drive -- Velozes e Furiosos! If you're bold enough to drive at all in Brazil, at least consider avoiding night-time driving. The problem behind Brazil roads is the presence of potholes (mainly because of lack of investments from the government) and animals (which are left free near roads by the locals). When driving you should be carefull and aware of this, as it is the primary source of road accidents.
  • If you drive, be careful: a flashing left signal means that the car ahead is warning you not to pass, for some reason. If the car ahead of you wants to show you that it is safe to pass it will flash the right signal. This arrangement seems to be the opposite of the rest of the world, but the idea behind this is really simple. The right signal is the same signal to indicate that you're going to stop on the side of the road, so it means you're going to slow down. On the other hand the left signal is the same signal to indicate you're going to pass through the car upfront, meaning you're going to speed up.
  • Flashing headlights from the incoming cars means caution on the road ahead. Most of the time, it indicates that there are animals, cops or speed radar ahead.
  • Keep the doors locked when driving, especially in the larger cities, as robberies at stop signs and red lights is not unheard of in certain areas. You'll make it much easier for the robber if he can simply open up the door and sit down.
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