Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
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 Bolivia is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance. If you plan on driving in Bolivia, despite the hazards described below, you should obtain an international driver’s license through your local automobile club before coming to Bolivia.
Road conditions in Bolivia are hazardous. Although La Paz, Santa Cruz, and Cochabamba are connected by improved highways, the vast majority of roads in Bolivia are unpaved. Few highways have shoulders, fencing or barriers, and highway markings are minimal. Yielding for pedestrians in the cities is not the norm. For trips outside the major cities, especially in mountainous areas, we highly recommend using a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Travel during the rainy season (November through March) is difficult, as most routes have potholes, and roads and bridges may be washed out. Added dangers are the absence of formal training for most drivers, poor maintenance and overloaded vehicles, lack of lights on some vehicles at night, and intoxicated or overly tired drivers, including commercial bus and truck drivers.
The majority of intercity travel in Bolivia is by bus, with varying levels of safety and service. Bus accidents, at times attributed to drunk drivers or mechanical failures, have caused scores of deaths and severe injuries. In recent years, there have been major bus crashes on the highway between La Paz and Oruro, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz, Oruro and Cochabamba and on the Yungas road. The old Yungas road is considered one of the most dangerous routes in the world.
Public Transportation: From a crime perspective, public transportation is relatively safe, and violent assaults are rare. However, petty theft of unattended backpacks and other personal items does occur. For safety purposes, the Embassy advises you to use radio taxis whenever possible. U.S. citizens taking unlicensed taxis have reported being robbed and assaulted.
In Case of Accident: Drivers of vehicles involved in traffic accidents are expected to remain at the scene until the local police arrive. Any attempt to leave the scene violates Bolivian law. The Embassy believes any attempt to flee the scene of an accident would place the driver and passengers at greater risk of harm than remaining at the scene until the arrival of local police.
You are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Information provided is subject to change without notice. One should confirm content prior to traveling from other reliable sources. Information published on this website may contain errors. You travel at your own risk and no warranties or guarantees are provided by us.