Driving in Jakarta
Updated April 2016
Indonesia, like other countries of the region, drives on the left-hand side of the road.
Traffic in Jakarta and other urban areas is exceptionally chaotic, particularly, during the rush hour that occurs between 6:30-9:00 a.m. and 4:00- 8:00 p.m. Driving is complicated by motorbikes that disrespect all traffic regulations. They are the cheapest and most popular private transportation in Indonesia. In Jakarta, every day, more than 2,000 motorbikes are registered. Always moving in large numbers, motorbikes do not respect traffic lanes and always squeeze their way in between the cars. The use of helmets is neglected as well as the number of passengers or the load they can take. Often a whole family of up to 4 people including small children travel on one motorbike, and it is customary to see them carrying incredibly bulky items. It is also normal to see motorbikes making their way against the main traffic.
Another problem on the crowded roads comes from taxis and other public transport drivers. Instead of stopping at their designated places, they stop anywhere they find passengers flagging them down. And if necessary they pick them up in the middle of congested traffic. When they stop or start moving they just do it without any warning, which creates perilous situations for other traffic.
Accidents, slight and serious, are widespread and western drivers who cannot speak the local languages are often made to pay for accidents they did not cause. There are plenty of stories of irregular police fines and other illegal demands.
If all that was not enough frequent flooding brings absolute chaos to the city. It occurs in the rainy season lasting from December till March, although it comes as no surprise to get swamped in a deluge in April, or the during other supposedly dry months.
A solution to avoid the traffic problems is to rent a car with a personal driver, which is a highly recommended option as the prices for this service are not exceptionally high.