As with the US, traffic in Guatemala drives on the right. There is an extensive road network but less than a third of the roads are all-weather. Many of the roads are made from volcanic ash, and therefore very muddy during the rains. There are, however, about 13,000km (8000 miles) of first- and second-class roads in the country with paved highways from Guatemala City to the principal towns in the interior and to both the Atlantic and Pacific ports.
Seatbelts must be worn at all times but there are no laws regarding the use of child safety seats. Speed limits vary depending on the condition of the road but they are rarely enforced. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal and those caught may be jailed.
Travellers should avoid driving to Panajachel via Patzun as the road is badly maintained and criminals take advantage of these conditions to hold up travelers.
The road from the El Salvador border to Cuilapa and from the Belize border to El Cruce are major danger spots for bus-jacking and there are also similar incidents on the main Pan-American Highway near Solola.
Guatemala recognises the International Driver's Licence and when driving, a valid national driving licence should also be carried. US driver's licences may be used in Guatemala for a period of 30 days.
The Guatemalan National Civil Police can issue temporary permits or permisos to foreigners who hold valid driver's licences from another country and who need to drive in Guatemala beyond their initial 30-day period in the country. Such permisos cost Q30 per month of validity, and may not be issued for a period in excess of the applicant's authorised stay (ie, the term of their visa) in Guatemala. There are tramitadores in Guatemala City and elsewhere who may be able to assist an applicant in obtaining such a permiso. When driving with a permiso, one must carry one's valid foreign driver's licence in addition to the permiso.
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