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Driving in Chile

International Travel Information for Chile  (U.S. State Department)

:  While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.  The information below concerning Chile is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance

Driving in Chile is on the right-hand side of the road.  Traffic laws in Chile differ from traffic laws in the United States in some respects.

  • Right-hand turns are generally prohibited at red lights unless otherwise posted. 

  • Seat belts are mandatory.

  • Visitors must have an international driver's permit in order to drive legally in Chile. The international driver's permit must be obtained in the United States before traveling to Chile.   Although car rental firms may rent to customers with only a U.S. driver's license, the police fine foreigners for driving without a valid international permit. (Contact AAA)

    Major roads are generally in good condition throughout the country. 

    Some secondary roads, however, may be poorly maintained. 

    At night, occasional heavy fog in rural areas may lead to vehicle accidents with occasional deaths and injuries. 

    Care should be taken while driving in the mountains because the roads tend to have many tight switchbacks and may not have guardrails. 

    Many major highways in Chile are toll roads; drivers should carry a sufficient amount of local currency to cover the tolls. 

    Throughout Chile, care should be exercised when changing lanes or merging because many drivers do not signal lane changes and rarely yield to merging traffic. 

    Many Chilean drivers exceed posted speed limits, do not maintain safe distances, and do not observe posted road signs. 

    Buses are especially aggressive in moving between lanes.  Speeding is common, including in urban areas. 

    Taxis are plentiful and relatively inexpensive. 

    Driving under the influence of alcohol in Chile is severely punished, and can result in incarceration if the driver is involved in an accident.

    In accidents involving injuries or death, police may detain both drivers for many hours.