Driving in Mexico for the first time can be pretty daunting if you aren’t familiar with how things work down here. Some people say you need to stop driving defensively and start driving offensively because some people are just flat out nuts behind the wheel. Mexico’s roads can also be quite confusing in bigger cities and it’s easy to take the wrong turn or not get off on the right round-about exit. Here are some tips for driving in Mexico.
Stop Signs are More of a Suggestion
This sounds a little crazy, but most people don’t actually stop at stop signs, they slow down and roll through. Some people ignore completely and just blast through them like they weren’t there. I don’t recommend this if you see a police car though as you are a guest in their country and they can pull you over. One thing to pay careful attention to however is on some roads, it’s easy to miss the stop sign because it’s hidden or camouflaged from some other sigs. If you aren’t familiar with the road you are on, better to take it slow and easy.
Your Insurance is No Good Here
If you are driving your own car across the border, keep in mind your U.S. or Canadian insurance is not valid in Mexico. You need to have Mexican auto insurance. Temporary policies can be purchased in minutes online and include options of liability-only to full coverage. Policies range from just one day to a full year.
People Do Not Obey Speed Limits
There is a joke in Mexico about what the actual speed limit is. The answer you often hear is “as fast as you want so long as you don’t get caught.” While there are speed limits on the roads, they are seldom followed. The good news is many cars on the road aren’t in the best shape and simply can’t go that fast. This doesn’t mean you should drive like a mad-man everywhere you go, but be aware of the speed limit and don’t get too out of hand if you have a lead foot.
Cars aren’t the Status Symbol they are in the U.S.
In the United States, cars tend to be a status symbol of who and what you are. People seem to always want to impress others and they spend small fortunes on fancy cars to show off their status. In Mexico, a car is really about getting from point A to point B. They don’t care nearly as much about the car they are driving. This isn’t to say you won’t see nice cars in Mexico, there are plenty. It’s just not the same level of importance that it is in other places.
It’s a Give and Take Relationship
Ultimately, driving in Mexico is a give and take relationship. You might be at an intersection and you see people racing through, going when it’s not their turn, or make a left-hand turn from a right-hand lane. (It sounds crazy but it happens.) The best thing to do is just ease into the intersection and then take your turn. It always seems to work out and almost every other person in that intersection knows about the give and take rule.