Driving is one of the most liberating ways to explore Mexico, but there are some differences between driving in Mexico and driving in the United States that you should be aware of before you go.
Most travelers in Mexico adapt to the road conditions and Mexican driving style pretty quickly. Others opt for travel by cabs and trains to avoid it entirely. We want to make sure you’re prepared for your adventure, so here’s what to expect.
What You Need to Know About Driving in Mexico
When you drive in Mexico, you may be surprised by how different the etiquette on the road is. The roads may not be in the condition you’re used to. Follow these tips for safe driving in Mexico.
Use Defensive Driving
This is true anywhere in the world, but it’s especially useful in a foreign land. Because Mexican drivers may take more liberties on the road, you’ll want to keep a watchful eye out for other vehicles. Let other vehicles pass you and avoid engaging in road rage. Don’t follow the lead of other vehicles. If you notice vehicles rolling through stop signs, do yourself a favor and stop anyway.
Use the Metric System
After all, Mexico does! Be prepared to use the metric system before hand. This means knowing that 100 kph is equivalent to 60 mph. The more you prepare to do the math, the easier it will be to avoid a violation.
The Right Side is the Right Side
Like Americans and Canadians, drivers in Mexico drive on the right side of the road and pass on the left. You may notice a surprising lack of turn signals being used. However, if a driver in front of you uses his left turn signal but doesn’t change lanes, he may be indicating that it’s safe to pass.
Check the Gas Pump
All gas stations in Mexico are full service. You will not be able to pump your own gas. Always be sure to check the meter on the gas pump and make sure it is set to 0 before your attendant starts pumping.
Get Gas Often
Especially if you’re adventuring in the country, you’ll want to ensure that you have enough gas to get to your destination. Be sure to gas up frequently, as gas stations may not be as available as they are in the States.
Have Roadside Assistance
Your US roadside assistance won’t be able to help you in Mexico. Thankfully, most of our policies include great roadside assistance if you have any issues with your vehicle anywhere in Mexico. Simply call the roadside assistance claims number listed on your policy if you need help.
If you don’t have roadside assistance through your policy, the Green Angels are a helpful service for roadside assistance on Mexico’s major highways and federal toll roads (of which there are many). The Green Angels are bilingual and can be reached by dialing 078. In case of emergency, call 911.
Driving Conditions in Mexico
Stick to Daytime Driving
You may not notice a lack of street lights during the day, but you certainly will at night. Mexico has far fewer street lights than most American roads, even on multi-lane highways. For your safety, get to your destination during daylight hours.
Roads May Be Narrow & Steep
That’s right. Even on federal highways, the lanes can be narrow and the shoulders are often steep. Steep shoulders may not have guard rails for your safety. This is all the more reason to avoid driving at night.
Using Federal Toll Roads
Mexico has an abundance of toll roads, so be sure to bring plenty of pesos as you’ll need to pay in cash. The cost of a toll depends on the number of people in your party and can vary, but typically ranges between 25 to 150 pesos (or $2.50 to $15 USD). You may find that the conditions of federal highways are hard on your vehicle. Fortunately, insurance for any damage done to your vehicle is included in the toll payment (and your Mexican insurance policy will have you covered as well). Keep your toll receipts if your car is damaged by the condition of the road.
Have Fun & Be Safe
With these tips in mind, you’ll have an easier time navigating Mexico’s roadways. Always use extreme caution, especially in busy cities with lots of pedestrians.
If you have any questions, we’d like to help. Feel free to contact us today.