Speed Limits, Road Conditions and Breakdown Recovery

Understand the different speed limits and types of road in Brazil...

Many intercity roads in Brazil are toll roads. Drivers queue and pay at booths before proceeding along these routes.

Statistically, Brazil has some of the worst accident rates in the world. The São Paulo to Santos road, along with many stretches of the coastal 101 Highway, are especially dangerous routes. There are approximately 40,000 fatalities per year on Brazilian roads.

While some roads may be of very high standard, particularly state roads and toll roads, others, for example inter-city federal roads, may be in poor condition, with uneven surfaces, potholes and inadequate signage.

Roads in cities can be in extremely bad condition. Steep hills and the troughs designed to carry the heavy rains in São Paulo, as well as speed humps (lombadas), often cause ground clearance issues and can cause significant damage to a vehicle’s lower bodywork.

Animals or fallen trees in the road (due to heavy rain or lightning strikes), broken-down vehicles and accidents on the road can be additional worries.

Petrol/gas stations are generally not difficult to find in cities or on main connecting roads, but may be much less common in remote and sparsely populated areas. Poor quality fuel can be an issue, and it is suggested to purchase fuel from a reliable source.

Traffic volume is a major issue in the larger cities, and jams or tailbacks can occur outside of rush-hour without warning in many locations.

In an attempt to reduce traffic volume, São Paulo introduced a Rõdizio, or rotation system, which prohibits certain vehicles (except taxis and public busses) from using public roads on one weekday from 07:00-10:00 and 17:00-20:00. The day is determined by the last digit of the license plate:

  • Last digit 1 or 2: Monday
  • Last digit 3 or 4: Tuesday
  • Last digit 5 or 6: Wednesday
  • Last digit 7 or 8: Thursday
  • Last digit 9 or 0: Friday

Government transport officials police the scheme effectively and send fines by post to offenders. This is considered a serious case and will result in points being deducted from the offender’s license. The fine can be paid immediately or when renewing road tax.

Speed Limits

Maximum speed limits in Brazil are as follow:

  • Main divided roads and highways: 120 Km/h (74 mph)
  • Urban roads: 60 Km/h (40 mph)

Lower limits may apply depending on conditions, such as steep gradients or winding roads, or near schools or hospitals. If a person is stopped for speeding, they will be issued a fine. Road fines can be paid immediately at Banco Do Brazil or when renewing the annual road tax.

Brazilian Point System

A Brazilian driving license has twenty points. Points are deducted for infractions. A minor speeding offense will typically result in a three-point endorsement. A person driving with their elbow outside the window or with an animal on their lap will lose four points. Not wearing a safety belt will result in the loss of four points. Not wearing prescribed glasses, not driving with a valid driving license, or driving with a suspended license will result in a seven point endorsement.

Breakdown Assistance

Many insurance policies include a breakdown recovery service as part of the policy.