Saturday, January 26, 2013

Bolivia: Warning to Foreign Travelers--Choose Road Travel Very Carefully

According to The Latin American Tribune and EFE, seventeen people were killed and 30 others injured in the fourth serious accident on Bolivia’s poorly maintained roadways in a week.

Two buses collided head-on late Wednesday night (January 23) near the village of Taperas, about 310 kilometers (193 miles) east of Santa Cruz

On Monday (January 21) a rural commuter bus ran off a mountain road in La Paz province and fell 400 meters (1,311 feet) into a river, leaving 18 dead and 25 injured, most of them critically. Eleven other people are missing after witnesses said some bodies were swept away by the river's current.

More than 20 people were killed Wednesday and 30 others injured when a bus plunged into a ravine in Oruro province.

COMMENT: As most of our regular readers know all too well, Bolivia has among the most dangerous roads in the world, made worse by high mountain roads that rarely have guide posts or protected barriers.  

Drivers of local buses are often poorly paid and fatigued, given the fact that Bolivia is roughly three times the size of the US state of Montana. 

Having worked in Bolivia extensively over the years, reputable and experienced drivers should be retained through major hotels in La Paz or Santa Cruz. 

In cases where the driving distance is greater than eight hours, two drivers should be hired to ensure passenger safety. Night driving is discouraged due to poor road conditions.

Ideally, foreign visitors should endeavor to fly commercially or by reputable air charter in cases where the driving distance is longer than a day.