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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.

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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 10+ years of living in Latin America and becoming a full-time travel blogger. I now rotate between living in Panama City, Bogotá, and Lima. Follow me on Instagram @joeybonura for more updates on my life abroad!

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