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Discover different traffic rules in Americas! What distinguishes the roads of the North and South.

Traffic rules in North and South America

Authors / photo source: @freepik/Freepik and Unsplash.




         North and South America are like two sisters — close, but completely different in their approach to traffic. And if the North is the strict older sister, then the South is the younger and wayward. On the Northern Continent, it is customary to follow discipline and observe traffic rules, because harmony on the road is strictly monitored. The rules vary from state to state, and even the signs may look a little different, but this does not relieve the driver of responsibility. On the other hand, South America is a place where the roads turn into a virtuoso dance performance. Flexibility reigns here and drivers must be prepared to improvise, especially at intersections without traffic lights. Whether it’s the pedantic North or the capricious South, each has its own unique traffic regulations that are worth knowing before you get behind the wheel.


Stop lines and many-sided signs: features of traffic on the roads of North America.

Road sign in North America

Authors / photo source: Waid1995/Pixabay.


         In North America, including the United States and Canada, road rules are as strict as the dress code for a royal ball. Traffic rules are clearly defined and strictly controlled by the authorities. If you are driving on the autobahn, where there are several lanes in one direction, you should stay in your lane. The choice of lane depends on the number of people in the car. If this rule is violated, the fine can hit your pocket — in California, for example, up to $500!


         Another striking aspect of North American traffic rules is the stop line. Even if there is not a soul at the intersection, you must stop at the Stop sign, otherwise drivers will face a fine. This may cause confusion among visitors from countries with different rules. Another feature on roads in North America, particularly in the United States, is the placement of text signs, as well as a large variety of the same sign, which can confuse the driver. For example, a pedestrian crossing sign may consist only of the inscription “PedXing” (short for pedestrian crossing), an image of a walking person, and more. Drivers should also take into account that each state in the United States is a separate state, which can add other traffic rules in addition to those that apply throughout the country.


Road tango: rules for improvisation on a trip to South America.

Driver on the road of South America

Authors / photo source: stefamerpik/Freepik.


         On the Southern continent, in the countries of Latin America, a completely different picture can be observed. The focus here is on flexibility and, at times, some “self-regulation.” For example, in many countries such as Brazil or Argentina, manoeuvres at intersections are sometimes carried out using manual gestural communication between drivers


         In South America, there is also an unwritten rule: “Whoever is first on the lane is the one who goes,” which contradicts the principles of the more formalised systems of North America. In South American countries there may be intersections without traffic lights, where the traffic order is formed according to the same principle: “first in, first out.” This atmosphere allows drivers to be flexible and adapt to specific situations on the road. At the same time, drivers must have some paranormal sense and be able to predict the actions of others on the road, which can be a difficult task for non-local drivers.


Ban on stickers and flip-flops: strange traffic rules in North and South America.

Strange traffic rules in North and South America

Authors / photo source: Unsplash.


         Both North and South America have very unusual traffic rules. Thus, in Hawaii, car owners have to comply with a unique rule — any changes to the car, from raising an SUV to replacing rims, require mandatory registration with the traffic police within 30 days. In the US, in the state of Washington, drivers are prohibited from transporting alcohol in the passenger compartment of a car, even if the bottles are sealed — only in the trunk of the car. In Canada, in Ontario, drivers have to keep both hands on the steering wheel, both feet on the pedals and... the butt on the seat during the trip, otherwise they face a fine of $2,000.


         In South America, fines for ignorance of strange traffic rules will also not be long in coming. In Brazil, it is forbidden to drive downhill in neutral, with the gear turned off, and if you run out of gas in the middle of the road, you will face not only a fine, but also evacuation. Motorists also face a ban on stickers on their cars as they may distract other drivers. And don't forget to change your shoes, because flip-flops and sandals on the driver are also subject to serious fines.


         If you do not want to delve into the traffic rules of North and South America, the best option would be to book a holiday transfer. Upon arrival at the airport, a car with a driver will already be waiting for you, and there is no need to waste time searching for and arranging to rent a car. The driver will know your arrival time and will come to pick you up in advance. Moving along the shortest route, avoiding traffic jams and congested streets, with you will get to your destination carefree, if it’s a hotel in Argentina or an apartment in New York.


         More travel photos in our Telegram channel.


         Read also other Intui travel news: Conquer the Roads of Africa and the Middle East! Features of Driving in Arabian style.


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