If you’re planning a trip to Mexico and you intend to take your car or rent one from your destination, you need to know your way around. Here are five pieces of advice that we have prepared for you if you’re in the situation of driving an automobile in this country.
First, let’s discuss the documentation needed to drive in Mexico. You can use a driver’s license obtained in the U.S. or Canada, but if you intend on driving more, and leave Mexico for other countries, you can also get an international driving permit. You should always have your license with you, along with your ID and the tourist card.
If you use your own car, make sure to have your insurance and registration. Alternatively, keep your rental agreement and insurance with you when driving a rented car.
You should know that buying gas is simple, but a bit different compared to other places. For example, always make sure that the meter shows zero before the attendant starts pumping the gas. Also note that it’s a custom to tip the attendant if he or she has done something else for you, like washing the windshield or checking the tires and oil.
Avoid driving at night
Unfortunately, road fatalities are a lot higher at night in Mexico than they are at day. That’s because there are plenty of animals that you can run into, and there are pedestrians that cross the street recklessly. You will also see many vehicles that lack tail lights and they are a danger on the road.
Another noticeable thing is that there aren’t many overhead lights on the road so you will not be able to see obstacles from afar. That is why you should try and drive more slowly than you usually do. Also, if you’re stuck in a remote area, there are slim chances of someone helping you so you will be stuck there all night.
Stick to the main roads
Although thieves are not as big of a problem as they once were, they can still cause some trouble on the usually untraveled roads. Another problem that back roads have is that the road conditions can be suboptimal and your car might run the risk of hitting a hole and sustaining too much damage.
However, if you’re with a group of friends you can be confident that these issues can be resolved and you can try and visit the part of Mexico that you can find off the beaten track. This is where you will see the real spirit of the country, with the kids waving at you and asking you to buy stuff and adventurous roads with sharp curves.
Unwritten driving rules
In the U.S. and generally around the globe, a left turn signal shows the driver’s intention to turn left. But that’s not always the case in Mexico, where it’s generally an invitation for the driver behind to pass. If there is no intersection with a road on the left, then be sure that the left signal asks you to pass.
This shows how polite Mexican people can be. However, they expect you to be polite, as well. If you’re going down a road that has a shoulder and a car comes from the opposite direction, on your lane, if that car is overtaking someone you are expected to drive on the emergency lane.
You can also pass a car on the right, on the shoulder lane, but you need to make sure the driver you overtake is aware of that.
Don’t attempt bribes
When being pulled over, firstly ask to talk to the chief. If the officer that stopped you only wants your money he or she will probably back off when hearing that request.
Most Mexican policemen are honest and that is why you should never be the one to offer to bribe them. This act could get you in a lot of trouble. As expected, paying an officer to get rid of the fine is illegal in Mexico.