Brazil Driving Advice and Car Hire Info

Driving in Brazil
Driving in and around cities tends to be fast and standards aren’t great. Brazil has a high road accident rate with over 42,000 road deaths in 2010. The increasing number of vehicles on the roads, and the fact that highways are being improved leads to faster driving by often inexperienced drivers. In my experience though, it can be the more experienced drivers , such as those of taxis who display the worst driving skills.

Road standards vary, from modern well maintained highways to those in need of repair with unexpected pot holes and cracks. In remote locations even some main roads will be unsealed.

In many rural areas the quality of roads away from the main highways, and the poor standard of driving especially of trucks and buses, requires particular vigilance from drivers .Brazil has a zero tolerance policy on drink driving. Even a small alcoholic drink will put you over the legal driving limit. If you are caught driving whilst under the influence of alcohol, it is likely that you will be prosecuted. The penalties range from being fined and also suspended from driving for 12 months, to imprisonment for up to three years.

Driving in City Centres is likely to be a stressful experience -due to traffic congestion, poor signposting and confusing traffic systems. If you don’t need a rental car whilst staying in a City Centre try and arrange to collect it on the outskirts or at the airport. Some rental companies will drive you out of the centre for a fee. If not, try booking a taxi and asking him to guide you out to the highway or major route you’re aiming for.


A main concern whilst self driving in Brazil is crime. Favellas or shanty towns are often slap in the middle of seemingly affluent areas and one wrong turn can put you in a very dangerous place. Avoid driving in City Centres where you could get lost and find yourself in an area you shouldn’t be in. Thefts from cars are common, and cases of car jacking occur, sometimes with the occupants being taken and forced to withdraw money from their accounts at cash machines. When in a car you should keep the doors locked and the windows closed, and take particular care at traffic lights. In three or more lanes of traffic, consider using the middle lane(s), where safety may be higher. Also when at traffic signals, leave enough space between yourself and the car in front to be able to pull out and drive away if you feel under threat. I’d advise avoid driving at night anywhere in Brazil.

This website provides useful route planning info for all countries in South America including Brazil.

Brazil Car Rental –

Sixt, Hertz, National, Avis, Budget, Thrifty,  have outlets here. Also usually features on Car rental broker sites such as Argus Car Hire and Web discount sites such as

This is a South American based broker who handle rental in Brazil

Brazil Self Driving Rules-
Hertz and Budget don’t allow cross border rentals, Sixt seem to, but will charge. If you hire a car from Hertz for a week in Sao Paulo, it won’t be allowed to drive in the city at rush hour on one day in the week!( No I don’t understand that either)

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