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. 

Experience Panama


I'm Joey, a guy from Louisville, Kentucky that packed up and studied abroad in Panamá at the age of 20 and haven't moved back since. What started as a semester trip to Panamá has turned into 7+ years of living in Latin America and becoming a full-time travel blogger. Follow me on Instagram @joeybonura for more updates on my life abroad!


  1. Christian Chacon Reply

    I was born in panama, and i still live here at the moment. As an architect, i had a urbanism professor, who were always complaing that he and his urbanist friends, tried and even offered many master plans to develop the city, back in the 80’s and 90’s before all this mess started. Yet, he said that they were all ignored by our stupid goverment… This is a small city compared to others around the world, but the high traffic here, had made me take from a normal 10 mins driving to work to 2 hours stuck while driving or even 3 hours in the worst situation… Driving speed of barely 2km/h at a paste of stopping every second. Its a nightmare. The worst part is that finally we have an alternative with the new metro system… But public bus transportation system is even worse… Many times bus stops barely exist or they are improvised or almost destroyed, so rain can be a challenge for many people, not even mention that in many cases, buses pass by because they are not in service, i have counted almost 10 busses before i can even get into one, and i am not counting those are are full and cant even get inside… There are no timing and they always takes too long to pass, and there is not any road way exclusive for public transportation, so they get stuck in the traffic too… Just imagine 2 hours standing just holding your self in the buss tube barely able to move due to the amount of people inside… Is hot, smelly and very unconfortable… I found my self during my university time falling asleep, having to rest my head on my arm, while holding the tube… Because of course, i had to weak up at 4:30 am to leave home at 5am so i could get at 7:00 am to my first class of the day… And i also had a part time job after class so just imagine the difficulty for resting.
    Now about the barely existing and non existing sidewalks… No bike roads… Panama, is a mess and i hate it… And the goverment is never willing to take real desicions

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. High ranking road-quality in Panama is nonsense, both Highways (Corredores) are truly a shame, not to talk about main roads like Transistmica.

  6. 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.

  7. 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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