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Driving in Honduras

Honduran Driving Rules, or, There Are No Rules on the Road in Honduras

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Driving in other countries is always an adventure; it usually makes sense if you go into it with an open mind, though. I'd rather drive in Mexico, where rules of the road seem randomly whacky but wind up making sense, than in my hometown of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, for instance. There are places, like Greece, where driving appears, at first glance from a terrified newcomer, to be the nation's favorite contact sport. Honduras will seem like one of them until you've gotten behind the wheel and learn that driving in Honduras makes perfect sense if you learn the rules of the road.

Ron Goben, who pens for International Living, talks about driving in Honduras in the following piece reprinted with permission from "International Living Postcards."

Honduran Rules of the Road

Tuesday, August 9, 2005
Roatan, Honduras

by Ron Goben

"Having driven a school bus back in the States, I thought I was prepared for anything I might possibly encounter on the roads in Honduras. Boy, was I wrong. Remember the old adage: the best defense is a good offense? Not a bad motto to keep in mind when you sit behind the wheel in this country…

"Don't get me wrong: there are worse places in the world to drive. But, if you haven't had much motoring experience outside the U.S., you're in for a few surprises.

"Here are some guidelines to help prepare you for a drive in Honduras:

  • "Rule 1: There are no rules. No traffic police to stop you for speeding, neglecting to use your turn signal, changing lanes when you shouldn't, and so on. The only time you will be stopped by the Transito (traffic police) is when they're checking registrations or on the lookout for someone.

  • "Rule 2: Because of this anything-goes atmosphere, you need to be aware of the entire 360-degree-area around your car. Popping in and out of your comfort zone will be pedestrians, bicyclists coming straight at you, taxis passing on your right, forcing you on and off the shoulder of the road…not forgetting the horse-drawn carts.

  • "Rule 3: Watch out for big yellow school buses. They're everywhere. It's almost like being caught in a time warp. (Then again, my old school bus never had tassels, chrome spinner hub caps, or a metallic lady on the mud flaps.)

  • "Rule 4: Be particularly alert outside of the cities. Most of the time, you'll find yourself on small two-lane highways, with good road surfaces, few potholes, and a posted speed limit of 80 kilometers per hour. Some drivers will go faster--some a lot faster--but the slower ones are the ones to watch. Don't forget the cows and horses that graze along the sides of the road, and those chickens and pigs that are always trying to get to the other side.

  • "Rule 5. If you see an oncoming car or bus approaching in your lane, and flicking its headlights, get as far to the right as you possibly can. The other driver is simply using the Honduran 'left of way.'

  • "Rule 6. The biggest mystery on the road in Honduras centers around the traffic light system (where there are traffic lights). You know those stop lights with the left green arrow? Well, driving fast and loose may be acceptable around these parts, but Hondurans will stay put--even when there is no on-coming traffic and the light is green--until that arrow appears.

"Driving in Honduras is an adventure, and a great way to see the country up close. Just keep your wits about you, avoid driving at night, buckle up, and enjoy the ride!"

From Ron Goben
For International Living in Honduras

Also see Student Travel's "Driving in Mexico

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