Corrugated City

Tuesday 22 July 2008

Dying in Argentina: Let's Hope Not

Tomorrow I'm back off to Buenos Aires for a little under a week to sort out some business and to also enjoy large amounts of juicy, bloody dead cow (now the farmers' strike is over and there's plenty of juicy, bloody dead cow around).

Now I really like going back to BsAs and Argentina. It's such a fun and beautiful city with so much to do and see. I'm really looking forward to the trip. What I'm not looking forward to is the insanity on the roads. Argentine drivers are, by quite some distance, the worst drivers I've ever had the misfortune to have to deal with. They deliberately speed up if they see you crossing the road, don't respect traffic lights or any kind of traffic signals, make 1 lane into 23, deliberately try to knock down cyclists (I used to cycle in BA), drink and drive, text and drive, write letters and drive (I had a taxi driver writing a letter to his mother telling her how much he loved her-I could read it over his shoulder) and generally do anything possible to drive as dangerously as they can. When my brother visited me in Buenos Aires, he refused to get inside another taxi after just 3 journeys. If anyone thinks driving is bad in Chile (it's really not) then don't ever go to Argentina, it's a million times worse over there.

An accident a couple of days ago left another 6 people dead, taking the total for the year to over 4000 people. At the moment, the average is 22 people dead every single day of this year. This will exceed 8000 dead if the current rate continues, beating last year's average by 1 extra person per day. Compare this to England, a country with about the same population as Argentina but with far more cars on the road, where about 1500 people are killed in accidents with a further 1000 cyclists and pedestrians, making 2500 traffic related deaths per year. The Argentine stats don't specify if they include pedestrians and cyclists killed by careless driving-I strongly suspect they don't.

Bear in mind that we're talking only about the people who have died in accidents, not the people who have been maimed or not so seriously injured. That number is probably 100 times beyond the death figure (at least that's the ratio mentioned in the link to the England accident rate).

Luchemos Por La Vida is a non-profit that tracks the carnage and puts adverts on telly in Argentina. There is no government sponsored campaign to stamp out the madness.

This road based insanity is one of the reasons I prefer to live in Chile these days.

Hopefully, I'll be back blogging next Wednesday...if I'm not run down by a psychotic bus driver...wish me luck :)


Dan said...

You cycled in Buenos Aires?! The only day I would ever consider doing that would be a Sunday, and even then ...

buen viaje

Real Chile said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Real Chile said...

Well according to the wiki

The US is three times worse than the UK for "Road fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants. I think the US also has bragging right for most fat people involved in car crashes since pound for pound (pun intended) the US is number one.

Wayne Bernhardson said...

Matt, I have written several post on traffic safety in Argentina, the most comprehensive of which is at I agree with you that Chilean drivers are positively mansitos compared with Argentines.

Matt said...

Dan-Yep. Some people jump out of airplanes. Some climb mountains. I get my kicks from dodging buses, cars and dog walkers. It's actually quite fun...Sundays were a great time to cycle around..I used to go in a huge loop around the eco reserve and then all the way up to the River Plate stadium through the bosques de palermo and then back to Congreso. A really good half day outing fueled by choripanes along the way.

Berkeley...Go Team U.S.A!!

Wayne, thanks for the makes for some interesting and fairly sobering reading...

Real Chile said...

Thanks for understanding my irony. I just can not get over the reverse culture shock of how many fat people there are in the U.S.

Anonymous said...

I feel very pity for those poor victims.