The Dominican Republic has the best driving infrastructure in all of the Caribbean, with modern, well-paved highways that are maintained to a good standard. Unfortunately, this hasn’t stopped the nation from earning the highly unwanted crown of having the most dangerous roads in the world.
This may come as a shock to many travelers. While nations like Thailand and Vietnam are infamous for their dangerous roadways, the Dominican Republic has flown under the radar. This is despite being more than twice as dangerous as the nations mentioned above.
What Types Of Transport Are Available
There is no shortage of transport options in the Dominican Republic, but it is important to understand some are much safer than others for visitors to this beautiful country.
For those with a state-issued license from the U.S., renting a car in the Dominican Republic is super easy. For experienced and confident drivers who are well-practiced in defensive driving, the Dominican Republic can be perfectly safe to travel in. Just don’t forget to obey local driving laws, and be aware there are many quirks to driving here that you wouldn’t find in the U.S.
For example, it isn’t uncommon to have livestock wander onto busy highways. This alone makes night driving especially more dangerous. As well as competing with livestock-filled highways, when driving in cities, always obey the traffic signals and don’t be tempted to run the lights on seemingly clear roads, as is common with some local drivers.
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Taxis & Uber
Taxis are generally considered safe in the Dominican Republic. Taxis are easy to hail. They often wait outside major public transport stations as well as hotels, resorts, and tourist attractions. But they can also be booked directly via their respective company phone numbers. The number for a trustworthy taxi company can be found at the reception of any resort or hotel. If your taxi drives erratically, don’t be afraid to tell them to slow down.
Uber is also present in the Dominican Republic and is the perfect option for those who enjoy the control and transparency of the worldwide ride-hailing service. This is a great way to get around the major cities of Santo Domingo, Santiago, and of course, the tourism hotspot of Puerto Plata.
Cabify also operates in the country, giving another safe and reasonable travel option. The main attraction for these services is the review system for each driver. With such dangerous roads, it’s important to know you have a responsible and tested driver.
Major bus operators have a good reputation for safety, although they have needed some guidance from the government, and also bring a good level of comfort for longer journeys. But, for shorter journeys, the options available get less and less safe. A popular way for locals to get around is on small public buses (guaguas). These are super cheap but also extremely crowded and are havens for pickpockets to do their work in ideal conditions. These vehicles can also have questionable maintenance, adding to the already dangerous conditions on Dominican Republic roads.
Moto Taxis (Motoconchos)
Motorcycle taxis are popular with locals for their price and their ability to skip through traffic. But it isn’t advised for travelers to use this form of public transport, as the riders have a fierce reputation for driving recklessly. Additionally, the use of a helmet is often treated as advice and not a legal requirement, adding to the danger for both rider and passenger.
Is the Dominican Republic Safe To Travel In?
Although the Dominican Republic ranks as the nation with the least safe roads worldwide, that doesn’t reflect clearly whether it is dangerous for travelers visiting the country.
Over 63% of road fatalities in the nation are from 2 and 3-wheeled vehicles, and the majority of fatalities are related to a lack of proper safety equipment such as helmets. This is an important statistic as it shows by simply avoiding all 2 and 3-wheeled travel, visitors can cut their risk by more than half. This shows that the Dominican Republic is much safer to travel in than its reputation paints.
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