Here’s the thing about driving in Rio.
You don’t need a car in Rio. There’s no reason to rent one.
Walking into a favela at night – unescorted – would be safer.
Well… maybe not. Don’t try that either, but you get my drift.
Alternative modes of transportation include walking, taxis, buses, boats, subway, friend’s vehicles, hotel transport, etc.
Unless you’re traveling out of town, don’t even think about renting a vehicle.
But that’s not the end of my cautionary tale – not even close.
Brasil has enjoyed a storied history in motor racing.
They’ve embraced scores of legendary race car drivers, several of whom have won the Formula One World Driving Championship.
They include Emerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet and my favorite, and perhaps the best there ever was, Ayrton Senna. Between them, they’ve won 78 races and 8 World Driving titles.
Of those, Senna won 41 races and 3 World Championships.
He was killed while leading a race in Italy in 1994.
After his death it was discovered that he’d anonymously donated millions of dollars of his personal fortune (estimated at $400 million at the time of his death) to children’s charities in Brasil
Current F1 drivers include Rubens Barrichello, Nelson Piquet, Jr. and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa.
Brasilian drivers have been conquering American racing lately as well.
They’ve won the Indy 500 six times. The 2009 champion, Helio Castroneves, is a 3-time winner.
All of this success has been a big source of pride for Brasilians, who are race-obsessed.
They also host a coveted Formula One event each year at Sao Paulo’s Interlagos circuit.
This is just one big preamble to warn you to WATCH OUT FOR BRASILIAN DRIVERS!
Brasilian men are race-crazed, testosterone-fueled madmen behind the wheel.
The cars in Rio are tiny, gas-sipping darts. And drivers don’t think twice about driving on the sidewalk or going the opposite direction on a one-way street.
There are motorcycles everywhere as well. They’re ridden with quickness and aggression.
Although I have to admit, there is a ballet-like finesse to the way they maneuver through traffic and defy death.
Even Rio’s bus drivers think they’re in the cockpit of an F1 car.
I once witnessed two buses get into a screeching collision right outside my apartment building.
At night, it gets even more dicey.
Red lights are “optional.”
Due to the crime problem years ago, to protect motorists from carjackings, red lights were deemed to be more… semi-green.
Keep that nugget in mind, because buses only slow down to about 40 MPH when blowing through red lights, as even they like to take advantage of this murky gray “law.”
Oh, and I have no idea why… but lots of cars will turn off their lights at night, so it may be hard to see them coming.
But it’s nothing to be alarmed about.
Just pay attention.
Like your parents taught you, look both ways before crossing the street.
In Rio, that’s one rule of the road that’s not “optional.”
But you’d be crazy to get behind the wheel and join in the national madness.
Just (Don’t) Do it.
For more information or to contact the author