Photo by wallygrom (very busy at work).
Long distance busses are the mainstay of getting around Chile. While there are often inexpensive flights from Santiago to other points, getting from smaller city to smaller city in the north or south of Chile becomes prohibitively expensive if you’d like to fly, because most flights go through Santiago.
The long-distance bus comes into play, often being a very reasonable alternative to getting from Point A to Point B. However, as in all countries where buses ply the highways, Chile has recently seen a number of accidents, often happening at night, and on curved highways far from the major cities. As a reaction to these accidents, and the injuries caused, the Chilean government has recently put in place a law that requires passengers on “buses interurbanos” (inter-urban buses) to use seatbelts when aboard the bus.
Whatever you may think about this law, and the possible inconvenience of wearing a seatbelt when trying to sleep on an overnight bus, one thing is for sure: You don’t want to get caught without a seatbelt. The fines can go up to 57,000 CLP, which is about $120 US.
In addition to interurban buses, the requirement is in place for taxis and schoolbuses, and in passenger cars as well, where the law has been in effect for years. In recent weeks, dozens of passengers have been assessed a fine for refual to wear a seatbelt on interurban buses.
My advice: don’t take any chances, either with safety or with getting fined. Hop aboard and buckle up.