How to Stay Safe While Driving in Argentina

Driving in Argentina can be an eye-opening experience, but it's a great way to see the country. Here's how travelers can to do it safely.

Photo © iStock.com/Grafissimo

Argentina has some of the lowest traffic mortality rates in South America per 100,000 inhabitants, but still lags behind other countries globally. 

There are good public transport options and taxis but driving can be a great way to see the country outside of the urban centers, especially in locations including Patagonia where public transport is scarce.

Renting a Car in Argentina

  • Get an International Driver's Permit and use it along with your license in Argentina.

  • You must be 21 to hire a car in Argentina and will also need a credit card. If you want to rent a motorcycle, you need to be 25.

  • Always have your documents in the car with you. Police will stop you and ask for them.

  • You cannot take rental cars across borders one way. You can drive from Argentina to Chile and vice versa but generally, most companies like their cars returned to the place of origin. The other thing to consider is that it involves a lot of paperwork!

Automobile Clubs

Argentina's automobile association is Automóvil Club Argentino, and offers services including towing and roadside assistance.  Gas stations are provided throughout the country. 

If you are a member of an auto club in your home country, bring your membership card with you as Automóvil Club Argentino will generally recognize it, and offer you services and discounts.

Driving Tips for Argentina

  • You must be 18 or over to drive in Argentina.

  • Drinking limit for drivers is 0.05 and 0.02 for motorcycle/scooter riders. So don't go washing that asado down with a lot of Argentine wine.

  • Most of the main highways are toll roads so check before finding out the hard way.

  • Argentinians drive on the right. 

  • You must wear your seatbelt - it's the law.

  • Drive with your headlights on.

  • It's illegal to use a cell phone without a hands-free kit while driving.

  • Take it easy on rural roads. Most will have a decent number of potholes which can make the drive a bit rough!

  • Speed limits vary from urban centers to rural areas (see below), and speed controls are frequently set up.

  • It pays to know a little Spanish to help you read signs, ask questions etc. Check out the World Nomads Spanish language guide.

Speed Limits in Argentina

Speed limits vary depending on where you are in Argentina. There is increased use of speed checks in the country by police handheld and fixed cameras, so be aware and don't get too leadfooted!

The maximum speed limits for Argentina are:

  • 25 mph (40km/h) residential areas
  • 37 mph (60km/h) urban areas
  • 49 mph (80km/h) suburban main roads
  • 74 mph (120km/h) Autopista (highways)

Police Checkpoints

While driving around Argentina, you may encounter a police checkpoint from time to time to check, where insurance papers and other documents are requested. Drive slowly through the checkpoint if you encounter one and be prepared to stop if requested to.

Not all vehicles are pulled over but if you are signaled to do so, be polite and don't argue with the officials. Officially, there are no on-the-spot fines, and any police officer asking you for one is likely to be a bit crooked. If you are issued a ticket, you can usually pay it at a police station or a bank.

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