My girlfriend and I have never lived in a city that has more frustrated drivers than Porto Alegre.
We didn't grow up in big cities and the cities we grew up in were spread out. No super big downtowns and not a lot of traffic jams.
Our city is a typical Brasilian city. Lots of buildings close together and lots of traffic.
They are predicting, because of the rapid growth in our city, that in 5-10 years the traffic jams are going to be incredible. Our roads aren't ready to support all the cars. Honestly, they can't support them now. As they planned our city years ago no one expected the growth that is now happening. There was a time when most everyone here used buses, taxis, etc to get around. Only the rich could afford cars. Brasil is changing. It has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Now more and more people are able to buy cars.
There are 3-4 specific times during the day (our rush hours) where we do everything we can do to not be on the road. The traffic is that bad.
It's very common for people to honk here. Sometimes it's a friendly honk to let you know the light has changed but more often than not it's a very frustrated honk. You weren't responding fast enough to a light change or moving traffic, you had the nerve to let someone pull in front of you, you weren't driving fast enough, etc. You can get honked at and yelled at for any number of things. It drives my girlfriend bonkers.
We're used to all of that, and honestly we've (okay, mainly me) grown accustomed to sharing a few honks ourselves, but people's road frustrations seem to be getting worse.
No one has guns here so the American kind of road rage won't happen. I know it sounds like a "duh" statement but literally only the robbers have guns. Late at night no one stops at a red light or stop light because people can be waiting for you to stop and then they car jack you and/or shoot you if you don't get out fast enough. It's happened to people we know. At night (after midnight and until 5-6 in the morning) you literally just give a quick look for oncoming traffic and then just roll on through any sign or stop light.
Although gun road rage doesn't happen people seem to be getting more and more frustrated and are acting out.
It's bad but I've never seen it as bad as what happened here in Porto Alegre two Friday nights ago. I guy used his car to plow through a group of bikers. Why? He got impatient at the fact that they were hogging up the street and riding so slowly.
Amazingly no one died which is hard to believe after watching the video.
You can click here to read more about it and check out the video.
Seven of the bikers were taken to the hospital with injuries, but were released the same day. The car driver hid his car and removed his license plates, trying to avoid being charged. He is now being treated for extreme depression, in danger of suicide, in a psychiatric ward of a hospital.