Reason 1 to leave Santo Domingo: The worst traffic situation in Latin America

I need to admit, that I was laughing very hard for that reason. Maybe I am too sensitive or maybe I simply hate the urban architects in Latin America for what they did to big parts of their cities. But neither the megacity Lima NOR the hilly area around Quito suffers under such a bad traffic situation as in Santo Domingo.

Being in traffic is in the Dominican Republic nothing more than jeopardizing. No matter if you are driving a vehicle yourself, or you are only a passenger or a pedestrian – Life on Dominican streets plays with almost the same rules as a game of Russian Roulette.

Traffic in Santo Domingo is total chaos

A few people told me, that Santo Domingo has the highest density of cars per square mile and per capita of all Latin American cities. I wasn’t being able to prove that claim because of missing evidence at online sources. But I can confirm that the traffic density in Santo Domingo is definitely abnormal high. Even the family of my girlfriend have at the moment five cars in use – And they are only four people at home.

Next to selfish drivers in the capital of the Dominican Republic, there are a lot of doubtful characters in the streets. I made a few videos to demonstrate the madness on the streets of Santo Domingo.






These are absolute random encounters on the Dominican streets in Santo Domingo. All these people have different reasons and motivations to act how they act in traffic. But the way they do it by only thinking of themselves causes many dangerous situations and congests the traffic.

Around three thousand people die each year in the Dominican Republic due to traffic accidents, mostly due to driver errors. But 63% are coming from reckless motorcyclists.

Seriously: These were the worst traffic situations, that I have seen in my entire life so far. Wanna see just a random encounter of afternoon traffic?


One of the most congested areas of Santo Domingo

Reasons for that terrifying and paralyzing traffic situation are various:

  • The acquisition of the driver’s license means literally buying your driver’s license
  • Drivers are not trained and experienced when navigating a car
  • UBER (of course) motivates the people to earn money in traffic
  • All the delivery services deliver with motorbikes or scooters
  • Only one subterranean alternative route with a metro

You might think now, that public transport represents a valuable alternative to take the load off the traffic situation?

Urban public transport in Greater Santo Domingo is one of the worst in Latin America and can only be compared to some of the poorest countries in Africa. Chaos predominates in the streets and logjams in avenues because of the large number of private cars; Public transport is mostly carried out on buses and cars in unsuitable conditions.”

Public Transport and Urban Mobility in Greater Santo Domingo: Challenges of a Social Policy for Inclusion and Equity (2017)

That’s what people are already trying. If they can’t afford a car, they…

  • …use a so-called ‘Carro Publico‘ which is nothing more than a regular car driving along one street and picks up every possible passenger. Costs are relatively cheap (0.30 DOP = 0.55 USD) and let you drive quite a time before they arbitrary decide to charge you again. These ‘Carro Publicos’ load up to 10 (!) people per car, drive terribly slow and dangerous and block traffic everywhere picking up new passengers or letting them get out. Don’t ever go by night or in unmarked vehicles. Just a safety advice for those who don’t like to be a victim of crime.
  • …be a passenger of the so called ‘Motoconchos‘. These are the fastest and cheapest alternatives to get to your destination. Or to the graveyard as I rather don’t trust them at all.
  • …take the public busses. They are more modern and spacious, safer than other vehicles and have even air conditioning. But they are also more expensive and operate in very limited areas.
  • …rely on the privatized bus sector. These little busses are mostly in really bad condition and responsible because of a reckless driving style and street rivalry for a lot of accidents in Santo Domingo. This is aggravated by the fact that they stop literally everywhere and sometimes in the middle of the street to pick up new passengers.
  • …take a ride with the aforementioned subterranean Metro. I took it only one time and it was absolutely overcrowded. Prices here are quite cheap as well.

And Santo Domingo keeps growing. If Dominicans couldn’t prepare this emerging city decades ago for modern times, how will it look in the coming years and decades? I don’t even want to imagine.

Next page: Don’t even try to understand their ‘Spanish’