Saturday, February 12, 2011

Puerto Rico Driving Rules

Sorry, no photos. Taking photos would endanger my life. While driving around Puerto Rico over the last few years I've noticed some unique road rules. If you want to blend in you need to follow them. If you have been here please add to the list!

InchWorm :
This game is played at each and every stop light. There is usually a willing player. At the red light take your foot off the brake and go an inch. The next player will do the same. Continue until both of you are in the middle of the intersection or the light turns green.

This one is crazy since it is a real law that is just not exactly followed. If you pass up where you want to turn (an exit, a food stall, place to buy roadside stuff) you just back up. Yes, even on a three lane highway you just do it. If there isn't a shoulder to do it in you just do it. If it is unsafe and you can make people swerve all the better. No back-up lights? Score an extra 50 points.

If it is starting to rain, getting dark, the sun is rising, the wind is blowing, or whatever, you can start your own parade by driving with your emergency lights blinking. Everyone does it. For extra fun you can "even steven" with a blinkyblink and hold your own event. Or you can join in someone else's parade and swerve behind them and pop the button! Don't worry about a real emergency, no one stops for ambulances, police, fire trucks, or tow trucks. Wait, tow trucks? Yes, they not only have blinky blinks but also blue swirly lights, strobe lights and other seizure inducing flashes.

This is played by driving as fast as you can to get around people by going in the left lane or past the left lane in the breakdown lane or shoulder...bouncing off the curb (not really) and cutting across at least 2 (better to cross three) lanes of traffic to exit the highway all in the space of about 3 minutes.

You must go slow and look like you are pulling over on the right but really you are making a SuperSwerve and taking a left.

Just like the childhood game. At the red light it is red rover red rover come over come over - at least 5 cars (or as many as will fit the intersection) run the light and form a car-chain to block the intersection.

Text now is also dial now. At the red light it is the perfect time (if you have no reflexes) to start trying to see those little numbers and letters on your phone. You have to be first at the light though so you can hold it up enough so that only you get through the light.

EvenSteven - My favorite game of all. For this you must drive as fast as you can to reach whatever car is ahead of you. Then you reach them and go the exact same speed - even steven - so you can block everyone else. Even Steven is best when you even up with someone going at least 15 under the speed limit.

So there you have it, the best rules ever! Makes driving a pleasure.


Summer said...

Love it.

Don't forget:

BeepBeepWhat - When you pull up to someones house you don't know, honk your horn repeatedly until they come out and ask you what the hell you want. Then act like they are crazy for being annoyed. (Boy I can't wait to get a gate....)

TheTeaParty - If you see someone you know, it's okay to stop and have a conversation with them in the middle of the road. The more cars waiting behind you and the longer the conversation, the more points you score.

Fran and Steve said...

Hilarious but true. Steve was stunned to see PassUpBackUp on the expressway. Communication among drivers is also important. You have to learn the language of hand signals out the driver's and/or passenger windows indicating intentions such as a u-turn or a plea to get in front of you. Then there's the language of horns. Different tunes meaning Hi!, or A-hole, or this-is-my-parking-space, or Move over I'm coming through, or (rarely) After you. Then there's the futile cacophony of a thousand horns as drivers complain about a gridlock. And what would you call the sudden-swerve-to-avoid-a-giant-pothole game? -- Fran

Britton said...

PassUpBackUp....Even as a visitor I've noticed people playing this.

At first I was annoyed. Then when I had to do it....I was like...oh...Well I guess it kind of makes sense.

Dangerous I agree.

Anonymous said...

Summer - I know the BeepBeepwhat game and the gate makes it worse! Up here on our little hill I only go down to open the gate for the LPG guy (I know when he is coming and know the honk) or UPS (I hear him coming). Amazingly other people seem to not know when their gas or friends are coming. One neighbor is a 5 minute honker EVERY DAY AT THE SAME TIME (comes home for lunch) but wifey can't seem to remember this and push the button for the auto gate after the first few honks. I have an additional game I call the F U game - when I am really annoyed I'll honk my horn in the marquesena to join in.

TeaParty is a good one - and then there is TeaParty Plus where the stopped people add swirling arm movements (as if I am really going to try to pass on a curve which is where all tea parties are held)! Kind of funny but it gets old fast. katrina

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the good laugh! I had forgotten most of these "driving techniques" after being away from PR for over 2 decades. Since I learned to drive in PR, I thought most of these were the "norm". Here is a couple others that I remember:

Parking on the wrong side of the street facing opposite the direction of traffic. This can be interesting at night when you turn on the headlights and blind the oncoming driver.

Double (or Triple) Parking on any of the city streets just because you don't want to walk to get to the doctor's office or order an empanadilla. That is, parking your car to the side of a row of vehicles that is already parked next to the curb. Nowhere this practice was better seen than in Mayaguez.

Funeral Processions were my favorite. They drive on any given traffic situation with a caravan of dozens of cars at no more than 10 mph making sure you stop every few hundred feet until they arrived at the cemetery. I even saw a few processions with a band playing lively music on the back of a pickup truck.

Take care,

H Jr.

Anonymous said...

Too funny and to many things to commenton! Yes, the parking...if the curb is colored it means "park there." I love it when people park 90 degrees behind two cars parked correctly and continue eating lunch when they see you get into the car they are blocking!

The funeral processions are really great too - besides the music and flowers there are often lots of people walking behind the cars! Puerto Rico is like living in a movie! Directors don't make things up, they just visit PR! katrina

Jeff and Katrina Kruse said...

It's unfortunate but it's these driving "rules" that are forcing us to move up north so I can be closer to work. We love our house so much but I just can't keep doing 3 hours of this kind of driving every day.

Anonymous said...

Yes - unfortunately Jeff is correct. If we are going to keep enjoying Puerto Rico he has to be closer to work and we need to be closer to cave country. Our BEAUTIFUL home with exotic fruit orchards and exotic power etc etc is for sale. We are finishing up a redo on one bathroom and or course I will be working hard in the yard until we find a buyer because this is what I love doing! We are eating what will probably be our last corazones, lemons are small already, mangos are small, avocados are blooming, the Buddah's hand has flowers, coffee is flowering etc etc. (tear tear). We'll enjoy every moment we have here but moving will keep us on the island...spread the word if you know someone looking for a true paradise!

Fran and Steve said...

We have now been in Humacao 6 weeks. We're studying for the driving exam, and are amazed at the percentage of laws (and associated fines) that are flagrantly ignored, even in front of the police. With the government being short of funds, you would think enforcement would be a good revenue enhancement tactic. But no, I think the cops just don't want to be bothered. The few citations we have seen are by the highway patrol for moving violations on the expressways. You're right, every painted curb (even fire-lane red) means "park here". A new practice is simply stopping in the middle of the road --not even at a stop light-- oblivious to other motorists, to use their phones. We have a lot of stuff to get used to here! -- Fran

cocosdeagua said...

Come on people! we actually don't use these labels for our Puertorican Driving Techniques. I have to admit these labels are cool but, you have to admit we have the best driving school in the world. You want to know why??? Because IF YOU CAN DRIVE IN MY PUERTO RICO, YOU CAN DRIVE ANYWHERE! LOL...;)