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Old Aug 31, 13, 4:44 pm
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 1,305
Hello All -

Vida has made some very factual and realistic caution statements here regarding driving in Salvador, Bahia. His observations and his concern for the safety and well being of you and other FT visitors, is both genuine and well meaning. His observations apply just as well to most other cities in Brasil, and driving generally is more crowded and intense than it was decades ago. And during certain holidays and events (Cup), many more alcohol related accidents, including fatalities.

That being said, if you are intent on renting a vehicle ( which by your statements you obviously are ) and driving around with your family during the Cup, then so be it. It can be done, and you have been advised on some of the safety realities there, but you will find that driving in Brasil makes Roma, Moscow, or Athens seem organized, tame, and tranquil.

Driving documentation checks by the various police agencies happen. As do checks for contraband, and vehicle worthiness. There are generally more official and unofficial traffic stops in Brasil than Europe or North America. Today, it is an expectation, and a serious issue with the police, as many will be armed with automatics.

In my many decades of experience, there is no set policy or procedure followed consistently. You do need your documents translated and in order if stopped for any reason, and if you are involved in an accident with injuries, you must remain at the scene, until interviewed. That can be 5 hours or more, and if you do not speak Portuguese, even longer.

As safe as I am, I've been stopped a few times, and speaking the language and having my documents in order, it was a pleasant enough experience each time, even with a DETRAN-police stop involving 5 officers on the beach and my 4WD. Just don't expect Inspector Morse/ Lewis, Il Commissario Montalbano, or Derrick, to be around the corner, ready exchange pleasantries with you during the Cup, if you are stopped.

That being said, do learn a few words and phrases in Portuguese, and as you have no doubt done before in your many travels, brush up on local customs, do's and don'ts.
If you do rent a vehicle, buy as much insurance as you can.

Have a great time during the Cup !
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