Exactly how dangerous is it to drive in the DR?


Sep 6, 2011
Dominican Traffic Laws

If took considerable searching, and three trips to Santo Domingo, to find and decode the Official Dominican Traffic Laws. The actual tome weighs in at 200 pounds and needs two stout Dominican women simply to open the cover. It resides in a secret vault at the Tomb of the Unknown Moto Concho, guarded by the President of the Republic?s fourth cousin twice removed, Monday – Friday from 8am to 4pm, more or less. While not official posted, unofficial admission rates to the secret vault are 50 pesos if the guard is awake, or 100 pesos if he?s asleep. The two stout Dominican women charge 50 pesos each, and are always asleep.

The Director of Transportation in the Dominican Republic is charged with the unaided task of maintaining the Traffic Laws, which includes the actual writing of the Traffic Laws. No further legislation or oversight appears necessary. The Traffic Laws are a long, continuous blog of sequential entries by the various Directors through the years, the result of which is a fascinating study in Dictatorial Impotence.

The current Director is quite an unusual man. He resides atop a mountain outside Jaraboca, in a small hut with no electricity, no phone, and no family. He spends his days in meditation and yoga, and his nights consuming six Presidente Grandes. He donates almost all of his considerable salary to the Society for the Preservation and Perpetuation of Solipsism, and a trip to the Society?s Annual Convention is his only foray outside his own home.

In the ten years that he has been Director he has made only one addition to the Traffic Code. On his way to the airport in Santo Domingo for his trip to the Annual Convention of the Society for the Preservation and Perpetuation of Solipsism, he went to the Tomb of the Unknown Moto Concho, made his entry, had the two stout Dominican women close the book, had the tomb sealed, his only comment - “It is finished.”

It should be noted, as a cultural aside, that all Dominican Traffic Codes begin with the legal phrase “Everyone knows…”
• That whoever honks first has the right of way.
• That having the right of way is a relative term, and meaningless if you?re dead.
• That if you are hit from behind in an accident, it is your fault for driving too slow.
• That when motorcycles enter the street from your right they are allowed to turn left without looking and drive on your right hand side of the street until they can cross to the other side. If you have an accident with a motorcycle in this situation it is your fault.
• That motorcycles do not line up in traffic with cars. If you are sandwiched between two cars it is your fault. How could anyone possibly anticipate you would be there?
• That big trucks don?t slow down for anyone or anything. Why should they?
• That no matter how narrow the street, there are seven lanes of traffic. Three for cars, with one lane always in the middle of the street as a passing lane, also known as the “let?s play chicken lane.” Plus four lanes for motorcycles, two lanes on the outside of each side of the street for motorcycles, one going in each direction, generally the furthest outside lane is against the traffic flow on that side of the street, if that makes any sense whatsoever.
• The usage of the seven lanes of traffic is only suggestive. All the lanes can be used at any time by anyone.
• That you can pass on the left or the right. What?s the difference?
• That headlights and tail lights are optional, even at night. Hitting a motorcycle that has no headlights or tail lights is your fault. Your lights were working, weren't they?
• That pedestrians have only one function – target practice.
• That owners of animals wandering in the street have no responsibility for those animals. Why would they? The animals are the ones wandering in the street.
• That the maximum number of passengers allowed in a car or on a motorcycle depends on whether the tires will go flat or not.
• That rear view mirrors are a waste of money. Who drives backwards?
• That if a taxi breaks down and leaves you in the middle of nowhere, no refund is due. It was probably your fault, anyway.
• That stop lights are for losers. Why would anyone do what a light tells you to do? That?s just stupid.
• That wheelies down the middle of a crowed street at midnight on Saturday night does not constitute reckless driving.
• That the maximum volume of music allowed for a car with open windows is a question too stupid to ask or answer.
• That it is not illegal to drink and drive, nor is it illegal to be drunk and drive. It is only illegal to be drunk and have an accident.
• That sobriety is a relative term, and thus sobriety tests are unreliable. The only reliable indicator of a driver being drunk while driving is if he falls down getting out of the car and can?t get up. But we still have to rule out other (possibly medical) causes that could account for smelling like a brewery and passing out in the street.
• That driving faster is always safer because it lowers your exposure time to potential accidents and eliminates the possibility of being hit from behind.
• That anyone wearing a helmet is probably a tourist.
• That anyone wearing a helmet and using turn signals is absolutely a tourist.
• That the term “at fault” only applies to tourists.
And finally, the most important Dominican Traffic Law, and REMEMBER IT WELL!
Everyone knows that if a tourist is involved in an accident with a Dominican, the Dominican just hit the lottery. The tourist will PAY.

The amount the tourist will pay depends not upon who was at fault in the accident, nor upon the extent of the damages. It depends solely upon how much the tourist values his passport. Because…
Everyone knows that if this goes to court, the trial could be postponed indefinitely, and the outcome is, shall we say, to be kind, unpredictable. In the meantime, the Police are going to have your Passport to ensure you show up at your court dates, at least until you die…

Hope you folks enjoyed your stay here in paradise, and yawl come back to see us real soon.
The final entry by the Director?

Brilliant in its simplicity, breathtaking in its profundity, bringing order, symmetry, and closure out of chaos, elevating The Traffic Laws of the Dominican Republic to a work of art – Everyone knows that everyone knows.
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Apr 3, 2004
Heeheehee!!!!! Thank you for lighten up my day.
I have not been running around in the traffic today- oh no-no-no, i have tried to get professional help to repair my leaking tinako.

Yes of cource i had to fix it myself after all of my tools was either stolen, broken or glued to the tinako in artistic ways.

So Frank now i am waiting for a thread regarding the Dominican professional, and why it always turns into a "No mi culpa"


Aug 26, 2009
This is a perfect summation to the real rules of the road.

My only addition would be the Caribe Bus drivers and guaguas from/to anywhere own the road and thus have the right to do whatever they want.


New member
Mar 3, 2010
I love your post...After 6 months here, it is pretty a good description of how nice it is to drive here.
Only comment is about getting involve in an accident with a Dominican. I was hit by a motorconcho 2 weeks ago. He was "lucky" enough to fly on my hood and not on the ground so he did not hurt himself seriously.
And as for me, I am "lucky" enough to know a woman friend here who knows about any one, policemen and Colonel included. The guy even went home and brought back him mom, and both were crying in front of the policemen, saying that I left the parking lot and never stop and hit him while he was driving quietly on the street and that I have to pay for his damage on his bike.
But my friend would just repeat how ridiculous his arguments were and told him I will sue him for the damages he did on my car. After few hours, they gave us all our paper back and told me to go to court if I want him to pay for my damages, which I know I would never see any money from this anyway.
But all that to say, I know I would never been out of there easily without good connection...