Panama Traffic

Panama Ranked As One Of The Worst Countries For Driving

The popular navigation app Waze has published the world’s first “Driver Satisfaction Index” and Panama’s epic traffic jams didn’t rank so well. 

The traffic in Panama City is pretty unbearable at times and keeps getting worse as new cars are rapidly populating the cities already congested roads. A new report put together by Waze called the “Driver Satisfaction Index” fully illustrates just how bad the traffic and overall driving experience in Panama is compared with the rest of the world.

The Waze Driver Satisfaction Index is based on six key factors:

Traffic Level by frequency and severity of traffic jams

Road quality and infrastructure

Driver safety based on accidents, road hazards and weather

Driver services like access to gas stations and easy parking

Socio-Economic including access to cars and impact of gas prices

“Wazeyness,” the level of helpfulness and happiness within the Waze community

Overall Panama was ranked as the 8th worst place to drive in the world with a driver satisfaction rating of 3.8 / 10. In the six factors that were studied Panama was always in the bottom 15 except for “road quality and infrastructure” where it was surprising ranked as the 5th BEST country. You can checkout the full report here.


What can we do?

Carpool: Ask around at your office to see who lives near you or on the way to work. You will help to reduce the amount of cars on the road plus save on gas by alternating driving days.

Walk: If your destination is less than two kilometers away just walk there instead of taking the car. You will probably arrive faster plus you don’t have to worry about finding a parking spot.


Metro: Completely skip the traffic by opting to use the metro.

Bike: I’ve noticed a few people taking their bikes to the street to get around and this is a great alternative to beat the traffic. However, Panama’s driving culture is extremely aggressive so you have to be careful when sharing the road with cars.

Don’t buy a car: The amount of cars in Panama City has drastically increased in the past few years, thus causing traffic. Don’t be part of the problem by buying a car. I recommend for new people moving to Panama City to see how they do without a car first because it’s completely doable – especially now with apps like Uber and Tu Chofer it’s easier than ever to live car free.


How is your experience with driving in Panama? Leave a comment below. 

There are 7 comments

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  1. Ramiro Diaz G

    yes. i wonder where is the master plan document for Costa del Este (which describes the urban planning, soil quality, road design, land use etc)… someday it will just "dissapear". (as many other things in Panamá) and then there will be no proof of that document.

  2. Ramiro Diaz G

    isnt carpooling prohibited in Panamá? what kind of laws do we have regarding transportation. more cars on the street only benefits Delta, and the other companies selling gas and diesel. Delta has apparenty "changed to a new administration". go find whos the owner and whos beneffited by traffic.

  3. Frankie Shapiro

    This place has become a complete overpopulated disaster. I have been to: India, China and the Phillipines. I can truly say to you that Panama is by far the worse place to drive. The drivers themselves are the cause of this. They are inconsiderate, impatient and downright lawless. No one follows the rules, people cut you off for the spite of it, buses are very dangerous as are the 24 hour lorries. There are accidents here every 4 hours and the over-construction is just adding to the mess. There was a news article last month where a road rage case caused a prominent doctor to physically abuse a woman driver. If they don't start holding people accountable for their bad behaviour, the country is sure to collapse and very fast.

  4. Barbara Harris-Jovert

    Friday we were almost hit by a school bus/van turning right (into us) from the left lane. If school bus drivers don't care about the lives of the children they have in their vehicle, you can imagine how little the other drivers here care about safety. The Panamanian drivers create a lot of the traffic issues just from their poor driving habits. Someone needs to start enforcing the laws.

  5. Erik Lund

    I have lived in Panama since 2011. I own a 250cc motorcycle, no car. If you are careful, travel is quick and easy. A motorcycle is cheap and easy to own, and the impact to the traffic is low.

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