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Driving In Mexico



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One of the great rumors out there is that driving in Mexico is not safe. Using some of the same reasoning that I hear about Mexico, you may also say that driving in Los Angeles, Detroit, Miami or many other big cities is not safe. It's all about having the proper knowledge of what is different and using safe practices.

Mexico does have a growing drug war problem that is leading to increased violence and kidnappings. Mexico travel warnings have been issued. That evolving story is undeniable in my view yet it is being denied by some tourism agencies looking to sell their trips.

You can still have a safe trip to Mexico if you follow some guidelines and tips as well as avoid certain border areas. You can check out Border control times . Here's what you need to know.

Passport

It really is best to have a passport. Although the traditional book, at $100, isn't required for Mexico travel, we recommend having one. They are good for ten years and you never know what may come up in the future for travel opportunities. If you are just going by land or sea to Mexico (or Canada), get the new passport card. At $45 it is a cheaper alternative if you don't plan to do any other type or travel. It is not good for air travel.

Insurance

You absolutely need to get auto insurance for driving in Mexico. Your regular insurance won't cover you and if you drive without insurance, both you and your car may be detained for who knows how long. Don't just buy any insurance that says it's for Mexico. It should be a rated policy with companies such as A.M. Best. Mexpro , for example, only deals with rated companies so that is one way to go.

Fuel

Gasolinerias are the stations. White on green signs. Fuel costs less in Mexico and is regulated throughout. There is one brand so don't bother looking for anything cheaper. Diesel, marked by black signs, is even cheaper. But the nice toll roads in Mexico are costly and offset your savings.

Seat Belt Law

Drivers must wear a seat belt.

Driving at night

Don't do it. Loose livestock will cause you some real problems. Assuming that you are not driving drunk, that doesn't mean that the other guy on the road is okay. Locals may be out and drunk on the roads. Most fatal accidents in Mexico are at night. Just don't do it.

Drunk Driving

Don't do it. Although passengers are allowed to drink, the driver is not allowed. You will end up in a Mexican jail for as long as they feel like having you. Don't do it.

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Highway Bandits

This is almost a legend now on the major roads. The government as increased patrols and cracked down on this activity so much so that it is pretty rare. And if they are out there, it's in the middle of the night. If you follow the advice above and don't drive at night, you'll be fine. It could still be an issue in non-tourist rural areas of southern Mexico, areas that you probably won't be going anyway.

Left Turn Signals

A left turn signal is used to tell the person behind you to pass. Turning on your signal, you are saying “it's safe, please pass me.” The same goes for when you are behind someone and they turn their signal on. They are saying it's safe for you to pass but use your own judgment on your ability to accelerate. They don't know your engine or your weight. The toll roads are a bit more Americanized but I still wouldn't trust it completely. Use caution when you are using your signal and when others are doing so.

Turns

Look for left turn lanes and left turn arrows. You must wait for the arrow. By law, right on red is not okay unless a sign specifically says you can turn on red. It is becoming more common to turn, and locals may honk at you sitting there, but don't do it when a cop is around. I'd take the honking and not risk the Mexican police.

Steep shoulders and few pullouts

Some roads are narrow and the shoulder may not be existent. The drop from pavement to shoulder may be steep and dangerous so drive carefully. Pullouts are not common because when they did have them, little shanty shops and stands would appear on them.

Traffic Warnings and Signals

Flashing lights on cars coming towards you, someone waving a piece of clothing, objects in the road, even car parts, are all signs that a road hazard may be ahead. It could be a stalled car or a fallen bridge. Use caution when you see any such things while driving.

Other drivers

Many drivers are polite and many are not, probably just like in your own country. Most accidents occur after dark but the accident rate is much higher than in the US for example. On the highways, you are most likely to have issues with buses. They will tailgate you, pass you and then be slamming on the brakes in front of you for a rider. It's best to take a break and put some distance between you and them.

Parking

Parking lots, such as those for grocery stores, are small and cramped. Spaces are designed for cars and are small even for those. Trying to go shopping with your RV is difficult and not recommended. Use your toad or public transportation.

In the end, the best rule is to expect the unexpected at all times, don't do any unexpected yourself and announce every move you make.

Have you traveled in Mexico lately? Do you have any new tips you can recommend?

 




Adam | Mar 9, 2009 | Category: RV Tips

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