30 Apr 2021
10 July 2021
Brasilia by Car
Brasilia was designed as city for cars and about 500,000 people. Now with over 4.2 million people in and around Brasilia, it can be a challenge.
The cars in Brasilia are everything from the latest models to cars that should not be on the road. And the typical Brazilian driver, not all of them I might add, think that they are the only vehicle on the road and left, right and behind does not count. Most drivers adhere to the speed limit and the lanes, but the amount of wannabe race-car drivers and drifters are still huge.
Be careful to watch your speed, especially on the main roads. Speeders are captured electronically and the cameras are merciless, issuing tickets through the mail. Look for a rectangular sign that has the speed limit posted and says “Fiscalizção Eletrônica” underneath – within a half-mile you’ll see two shorter poles on the right side of the road. Those are the camera traps. You may also find the race-car drivers slow down dramatically at these points and then take off like a shot just afterward!
Indicators should be an optional extra here as many do not use them or indicate to go left and then go right. Never ever trust any indication, especially if you pull out of a side street.
Most cars adhere to the red lights, but many, especially the motorbike riders, see it as a sport to race through red lights.
Parking in the middle of the city is an absolute nightmare. There are hardly any parking stations and in the heart of the city, where all the ministries are, and it is extremely hard to find a parking spot. Even in the commercial quadras is can be a challenge and it is not uncommon to be blocked by a car parked behind you. If that happens, beep your horn and hope the offending driver returns promptly.
Almost all parking lots are public and territory of some “parking attendants.” There is a state accreditation system for them that obliges them to wear a green vest with an identification number. With or without the vest, no one is required to pay anything. In Brasilia there are still no "rules" - as in Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo - for payment so if they demand it, do not fall for it! But if you give them a couple of reais they are happy, and you help a poor soul to feed his or her family
One of the biggest challenges driving in Brasilia is that everything looks the same: quadras, commercial sectors, etc. Even for people that have lived in the city for years, it is still a challenge to find their way around. Waze will become your best friend here.
And one of the biggest pains in the arse are the motoboys, or delivery drivers on motorbikes. They are the cowboys of the road; loud bikes, cutting lanes, driving with high speed through the traffic and for them there are no traffic rules. I don’t want to know how many of them die every day in Brasilia. So watch out for them at all times and never ever trust them.
Having all said, you will need a car and drive here in Brasilia. It will take a time to get used to it, but you will get there. Just expect to see daily accidents, aggressive drivers and some real nutcases.