Santiago traffic – the scariest (but most efficient) in the world?

We left Santiago airport just before 12pm. At 12pm we were with our driver on the road. It was a few moments later that if I hadn’t been so tired and sick, I would have been petrified for our lives.

We were approaching traffic head on. Our driver refused to move, explaining that the cars opposite us would make room. They didn’t so we took a detour onto the pavement.

Our driver didn’t just fancy a game of chicken, he was (sort of) adhering to Santiago traffic rules.

As of 12pm, traffic switches direction on various streets throughout the city. The idea is to keep the traffic flowing from more congested areas to quieter zones. On the whole it seems to work. A friend who’s lived in Santiago for eight years raves about it, and laments why it isn’t in place in other cities across the globe.

If you know the system, it’s a great idea. If you’re new in town, I guess it could be rather confusing (or damn right scary?) If you’re on the road as the switch over takes place, like in our case, there’s no room for about turns. You just go for it.

I’m not sure how the rule would work in rule obsessive Switzerland or rule phobic Angola. Perhaps best not to wonder.

As for me, I’ve finally got into the swing of using ride hailing apps. I had been looking forward to the independence of getting behind the wheel, but for now at least I’m a little too chicken to play Santiago chicken.

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