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Safe Driving in Mexico

Reportedly, over one million Canadians a year vacation in Mexico. This is an attractive and, relatively speaking, affordable, travel destination in the winter months. Some Canadians actually drive to Mexico. Many tourists rent vehicles while they are there. When heading to Mexico, it has to be kept in mind that the road system design and upkeep, and the rules of road safety (that is, the rules that are actually enforced) are by all accounts quite different to what we know and expect in BC.

  • Motor vehicle accidents involving travelers are quite common in the countries of this region and visitors should always drive defensively. If driving in Mexico or Central America, you will often encounter road conditions that are significantly poorer from those in your home country. Always use seat belts and avoid driving at high speeds, in the rain, or at night. Try to stick to the main roads and highways. Also, be aware that stray livestock can unexpectedly cross your path on the road at any time.
Another, the website for the association for safe international road travel—www.asirt.org/lessons.htm lists a number of safety issues, some of which appear to be part of the fabric of the Mexican road travel experience including:
  • No regard for pedestrian right of way.
  • Disregard, generally, for use of seat belts.
  • Seat belts not available in rear seats.

The dangers of stray animals together with other troublesome scenarios, are discussed in detail on a third website, "Safe & Enjoyable Time While Driving in Mexico" www.mexadventure.com/drivingtips.cfm

  • Do not drive at nightMost cases of highway crime occur at night. Loose livestock often wander onto roads at night and are difficult to see. Many vehicles in Mexico do not have functioning headlights and brake lights, creating dangerous situations.
  • Always keep an eye out for loose livestock: horses, cows, pigs, and dogs are often found wandering loose in the road. Construction sites are often unmarked and equipment can be left on the road.
  • Rainy and Wet Conditions: The dirt and oil on the road mixes with rain to cause extremely slippery conditions. When it begins to rain, slow down to a crawl. RVs / Motorhomes and vehicles with trailers should avoid driving in the rain as much as possible.
  • ‘Topes,’ Mexican speed bumps that are 2-3 times larger than the speed bumps in the US or Canada. If a driver does not slow down to 5 km/hr before hitting a tope, “you can expect to launch your vehicle into flight, potentially damage your suspension, and possibly bite half-way through your tongue.” In many areas in Mexico (especially throughout Baja), topes will be located at the beginning and ending of most towns along the major highways. They are not always clearly marked, so a constant lookout for them must be maintained.
Please drive safely.

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