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Culture —– Safety in the Streets!

by Brandi

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May 18th, 2009

For your own safety, in the streets of Latin America there is one major piece of information you need to be aware of—pedestrians do not have the right of way. If a pedestrian walks across the street at a cross walk (2 solid parallel white lines) in the United States, all vehicles are required to slow down to let the pedestrian cross. Most cross walks in the United States are at are at street lights or intersections with stop signs, but once in a while there are crosswalks in the middle of city blocks (far from an intersection). When people start to cross the street at the crosswalks, vehicles will slow down to wait for them even without street lights to stop the cars. If pedestrians are in the streets in Latin America, not only do cars not slow down, they seem to speed up. If you see cross-walk type lines in Latin America, THEY ARE NOT CROSSWALKS, do not try to cross there because cars will not slow down for you. You may not live to get to the other side of the street, which means you would never get to read anymore of our incredibly interesting FREE Spanish culture newsletters!

It is fascinating to me that even though the streets are a lot more dangerous in Latin America, there are a lot more people who walk in the streets! Instead of just walking straight across the street like we do in the United States, in Latin America when people cross the street, they usually walk diagonally until they are in the middle of the street. Then they will walk for awhile in the middle of the street as cars come whizzing by in both directions; finally when there’s a slow in traffic, they cross to the other side of the street.

In other words, you will probably be a lot safer if you don’t use cross walks in Latin America. Now, this probably varies in some major cities in Latin America, but all of the cities that I have visited are just as I described. I am interested to know if any of you readers have had a different experience in a different city.

One more interesting piece of information worth mentioning about street etiquette—women usually hold hands when crossing the street in Latin America. For your information, this does not have the same connotation as two women holding hands in the United States. Most women in Latin America do it for safety reasons such as to avoid falling down, etc.

In conclusion, to be safe in Latin America, do not use cross walks (or lines that look like cross walks) and be careful to stay out of the path of oncoming cars; they won’t slow down or stop for you.
If any of you have had experiences with this, I would love to hear from you.

Sneak Peak at Next Week: Don’t Drink the Water

¡Que tengan una buena semana! (Have a great week!)
David S. Clark — President / Director

Click here to learn Spanish.

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