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Traffic Accidents in the Dominican Republic

If not for being intoxicated will someone please explain how these types of impacts are even possible on straight roads with excellent pavement and have a maximum speed limit of 80 KM’s per hour. (50 MPH) Because I can’t figure it out.

I want to cover a subject that I should have covered a long time ago. I want to talk about the amount of ridicules accidents I see when I’m out on my excursion trips. Many of these accidents are located on open straight highways with exceptional pavement. The main highways in the DR are actually quite good and a lot of my visitors are pleasantly surprised to find that out. Many years prior that just wasn’t the case but things have changed for the better when it comes to the infrastructure in the DR.

Since I pile on the miles I can tell you from personal experience I’ve seen so many of them I could have a fifty page scrap book and it still wouldn’t include all of them.

Heck I can remember needing a decent 4X4 to pass some of the roadways that now an economy car would glide over with no issues. So I want to finally address the issue of the careless driving, the drunk driving that’s prevalent all across the DR. Since I journey with people who are interested in relocating here and also host two active YouTube channels that are part and parcel about the DR, I drive more than most people. It’s just part of what I do.

I love exploring the back roads and 4X4 options. Last year alone I put on well over 32,000 KM’s and that’s over 20,000 miles for our US subscribers. Trust me when I say that’s a fair amount of driving for those living in the DR. In the 20 plus years of living here at least on a part time basis I’ve accumulated over 200,000 miles in total and as would anything done so regularly a person gains some wisdom, or at least one should. What I’ve learnt in that time is almost 90% of the accidents I’ve witnessed should never have occurred in the first place.

 

Right or wrong is subjective so I’m not going there. What I will say amounts only to my perception from a lot of driving experience throughout the DR. You have this element, this thought process both here in the DR and in many other countries that I’ve visited, worked in or lived in that promotes this type of driving attitude. It’s as if the process works in a fashion similar to I’m bigger than you so you best watch out and stay out of my way. Ridicules as that sounds is true and anyone who’s lived here will understand exactly what I mean.

You have dump truck drivers who resemble Mario Andretti wanabe’s. Drive enough and you’ll be seeing semi-truck drivers who act like there on a short track hugging a half mile dirt oval and not caring in the least who they’ve forced into the ditch and let’s not forget our friendly drunks who can barely stand up let alone drive a vehicle safely. Adding them up and you have a situation that can be dangerous especially if you’ve packed your western rules of the road with you upon arrival.

If you drive in the same manner as you do in the west you’re going to have problems. Here double yellows don’t mean a thing; you’ll never get a ticket for not obeying them either. If you stop in the middle of the lane to be courteous and let a pedestrian cross I can assure you it’s only a matter of time before one or more vehicles pile into you. Remember lines and lights are only for those who obey them. On their own they do little to prevent anything. Hell in much of the country the street lights only work when there’s city power so no one really pays them any mind. If it’s clear then go is the norm.

Watch this video and really pay it some relevance when I’m half joking and mention “think about the dumbest thing that the person in front or in back of you can possibly do. Chances are you’ll be right 98 out a 100 times. By doing so you’ll find yourself prepared for the unexpected. I’m not saying its right or it’s wrong. What I am saying is that it works and is especially true when it comes to scooters and motorcycles.

On a closing note years ago I asked a friend why is there no Dominican Drivers in racing and especially in the super bike series. Anyone who’s seen these people ride know they’re like one with the machine. They don’t just ride the machine they’re part of the machine. Commonly you’ll see old ladies riding side saddle on motorcycles and are as relaxed as can be or four on a bike while holding a child and a small pig strapped to the back yet are completely comfortable not the slightest bit nervous.

Honestly at the time it made no sense to me why some aren’t on the circuit so I asked. His answer was so true that it’s been almost ten years ago and I still remember it almost word for word. He stated “Dominicans are great motorcycle riders. For many by the time they’re two years old riding with your parents on a motorcycle is a normal way of life. Dominicans are very comfortable on a bike, they are not afraid of speed and their balance is second to none.”

So I asked again then why are none in any of the best racing circuits. He continued “racing requires patience actually a lot of patience. In racing you may have to follow for 25 even 50 laps waiting for that opportune moment to pass. Racing is knowing when to follow and wait for the correct moment or for the most part you’ll just be wrecking. Race after race you’ll be wrecking and that’s why there are no Dominicans in any of the highest ranked circuits. Yamaha, Honda Suzuki and all the other manufactures want to win races not wreck machinery. Dominicans don’t have the patience and certainly don’t understand what a brake is used for and while fast on the open road racing is for the most part done in close quarters. In that type of close competition Dominican riders would only be wrecking most of the time. That’s why.” I remembered his answer because years later the wisdom that can only be gained by hands on experience proved him to be correct.

Glad I had a chance to finally express my feelings on a subject that needs to be addressed. I’m out on the road most days so I understand it might be a subject closer to me than the person that limits their traveling but the DR is without a doubt one of the most beautiful and diverse countries on the planet. I for one enjoy seeing as much of it as I can and that requires driving, a lot of driving. From what I’ve seen it’s going to take a lot more than speed bumps to slow down this problem. Until Next time this is Barry in DR.

5 comments… add one
  • Gary Jul 17, 2017, 10:28 pm

    By the way Barry I forgot to mention that I really liked this type of post. You should do more of these posts examining the mindset of Dominicans and just some general observations of what to expect living there. In other words more of human interest stories would be just as important as the nice beaches and beautiful places to visit.

    • Barry Jul 28, 2017, 1:35 pm

      I am buddy. Several folks had made the same comment. I’ll be doing more travel videos also. Actually we’re uploading a new series now on the DR Escapes Channel about the NW coast and inland areas. We’re also thinking of videos in Spanish. So many Dominican people are now watching the channel that I feel by not doing this are some what missing the boat. What say You?
      B

    • Barry Jul 28, 2017, 1:36 pm

      For sure we will be doing exactly that.
      B

  • Gary Jul 17, 2017, 10:25 pm

    Hi Barry,
    I understand what you’re saying. Bike racing requires strategy and patience and is not just knowing how to drive as fast as possible. Maybe the Dominicans would excel at some other type of motorbike events like those that require just raw speed and balance in very sprint-type short races or doing tricks on the bike while going at record speeds (i.e. hand stands on the bike while going 150 mph).
    Just a thought

    • Barry Jul 28, 2017, 1:31 pm

      You forgot about the RUM Gary 🙂
      B

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