Which Way to Turn?

Letrero de Alto y Viraje Obligado

The photo above has two traffic signs: The Stop Sign and the Must Turn sign. First you stop and then you must turn; but which way I must turn, you ask. The answer is it doesn’t matter. In Guatemala traffic signs exist to give visitors a false sense of civilized drivers. Along the roads, there are all kinds of traffic signs, including speed limit signs, which nobody obeys.

Here’s a hypothetical question for you. In Guatemala, who has the right of way among these options: pedestrian, bicycle, motorcycle, car, bus, truck, eighteen-wheeler truck? If you plan to visit Guatemala, you must know the answer before you arrive.

© 2008 – 2013, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • Jerry T

    I learned very quickly, on my first trip to Guatemala, after riding with a taxi driver, that the traffic signs are just a suggestion! The taxi driver we had, made a lane down the middle of the road, ignored stop signs, drove incredibly fast, and believed in using his horn alot! I can certainly relate to today’s comments. Keep up the good work, Rudy.

  • Herber

    Los asesinos como los llama mi madre (trailers) 🙂 o las jaulas esas de los azucareros en la costa sur…

  • Jerry B

    That’s easy! No one has the right of way! It’s every man, woman and child for himself! That’s why I love driving in Guatemala! 🙂

  • Another meaning?

    I’d say, from my experience, whoever is bigger…faster…and gets there first has the ‘right away’. Or if you think you can beat ’em…get movin’!! but, like my grandpa (truck driver) used to say, “you might be ‘right’, but you might be ‘dead right'”

  • Santiago

    Rudy,

    My experience is that the correct order of who has the right of way is precisely the reverse of the order you presented. The thing which really gets me angry is the tourists who insist on walking down the middle of the street. I know our sidewalks are very narrow and sometimes it is necessary to go into to street to pass the group ahead of you who take up the whole sidewalk…but walking down the middle of the street is just not cool.

  • sompopo

    On a sad note…..
    Just a few days ago here in the states a Guatemalan woman ran a stop sign in her van and slammed into a school bus killing four children. Needless to say she is in alot of trouble.

  • This sign reminds me of another entry on another blog. At least we know we MUST turn… that is always a good advice when there is a WALL in front of you.

  • I hope you are a safe and fearless driver.

  • Well, if driving in Guatemala is anything like driving here, my answer to your question is the 18 wheeler has the right of way. The bigger object on the road always has the right of way. Those little creatures called pedestrians have NO rights whatsoever on the road.

  • Manolo

    Just thought about sharing this sad news story which is a cautionary tale about the roads and the buses in Guatemala:

    Al menos 46 muertos en el Km. 33.5, ruta a El Salvador elPeriódico [es]