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Road Trips

Things to Know About Driving in Mexico

Some say the only way to see Mexico is drive through it.

With the construction of highway and toll roads by both the government and private individuals, you are now able to complete a trip from the Texas border to Acapulco on a multi-lane thoroughfare.

With the addition of modern road and tolls, driving through Mexico along such corridors offers a chance to take a road trip otherwise not considered.

This is not to say the trip allows the same regulations as bordering countries since Mexico has very rigid rules when it comes to its traffic laws, especially concerning accidents.

In addition, Mexican law is Napoleonic, meaning you are sometimes guilty until proven innocent.

What It does mean though, while a road trip through Mexico has wonderful things to see and do, you should remain cautious before setting out on your trip.

While there are basic tips for those traveling by car in Mexico, auto insurance is a must. Mexico does not accept foreign insurance and you will go to jail if involved in an accident and cannot produce coverage.

You should also have a travel plan before taking off and it is a good idea if you don’t speak Spanish to have a translation phrase and currency conversion tool handy. In addition, basic vehicle provisions such as oil, brake fluid, water and jumper cables, to name a few, should also be included in your travel pack.

In using the main highway and toll roads to travel, minimal issues concerning road conditions exist. Although the toll roads themselves are not all government sponsored, some are privately built; therefore, the toll on these roads can vary. Each toll plaza will advise of the amount required per section, and the actual amount can further vary from this; which is often true of large trucks, i.e. semi, and RV’s.

Depending on who actually owns the toll road will also make a difference on how the fee is charged. While most determine the cost per section by the number of wheels, some will charge by axle, and all will charge by the number of vehicles included. (a truck pulling an RV would be considered two vehicles plus the number of axles or wheels). The result can be expensive, sometimes as much as $70 U.S. per section.

In deciding to travel through Mexico utilizing the toll roads, it is important to know there are few exits provided and the need for basic necessities may not be as available as you are used to. In addition, the roads were purposely built through terrains to keep cars from using the roads without payment and may or may not provide shoulder use as a source to stop if needed.

Should you choose to travel through Mexico’s countryside utilizing local roads it can be an exciting adventure. With the availability of small towns and unique cultures, you will find the majority of the people very helpful and considerate.

You will also find the construction of these roads are much different, with many being constructed from gravel or cobblestone and large pot holes can often be equivalent to a safety course. Other things to consider when using local roads are the “laws” of driving as known by residents of Mexico.

Regardless of stop signs or traffic lights, keep in mind the largest vehicle always has the right of way and if you turn your left signal on it means it is ok to pass.

You also need to be on the lookout for large obsticles in the road. As a courtesy, it is not unusual for local drivers to put anything available in the middle of the road to advise of an upcoming traffic issue. Therefore, should you see an old chair or a pile of rocks in the middle of the road, it will most likely be there as a warning; however, it remote locations it can be a decoy for unsuspecting motorists, where robbery may be the purpose.

Another safety facts to note in driving on local roads, is livestock. Since few fences are available, they oftentimes wander onto the roads and are reported to be the cause of 40% of all traffic accidents. You must also be aware you are financially responsible should you cause injury to any livestock you might hit.

Brake lights are another problem area. Cars are considered a luxury item in parts of Mexico and are not required to maintain the same upkeep you might be used to. This being the case, it is not unusual to come around a bend to find a vehicle has stopped, but reflects no brake lights.

While some local drivers are considerate and understanding of foreign drivers, a good majority are not. They expect you to understand the way they drive and often times use physical displays to note possible traffic issues as accidents, livestock and stalled traffic.

Therefore, it is always a good idea to let them know your plans ahead of time. While Mexican drivers tend to pass slower moving vehicles, their choice and abilities are much different than those in other countries. It is not uncommon for more than one vehicle to pass each other at the same time, often resulting in on- coming traffic having to give them the right of way. However, if you forewarn the driver behind you of your intentions, it could eliminate a bad situation.

As Mexico uses standard traffic signs to indicate stops, parking, etc and getting around is much easier than it seems, driving local roads should be reserved for daylight hours. There are few lighted areas along the roads and with both natural and strategically placed objects placed in the road, it can be outright dangerous.

While driving In Mexico is far easier than believed, the best thing to do is use common sense as you enjoy the many things to do and see.

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