Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mexican Driving Tips

In Canada we have a few highway driving slogans like “buckle up” or “keep right except to pass” but in Mexico they take things to a whole new level. Driving the Mexican highways is almost like getting a driving lesson. Especially on the toll roads, there are signs every few miles that give you driving tips like "don't park on a curve," "no passing on the shoulder"or "don't obstruct the crosswalk."

Here are a few other examples:

Don't drive when sleepy

Moderate your speed, your family is waiting for you

And my favorite, don't leave rocks on the pavement.

I'm not sure why people would leave rocks on the pavement, although I seem to recall that it's a way to force drivers to slow down for one reason or another. I think that most of these signs are placed on the new toll roads because the speeds on these roads are higher and the driving style required is more sophisticated.

In recent years the Mexican government has built a big network of toll roads throughout Mexico. The tolls are quite costly for some of them--so much so that many residents cannot use the roads. So there continues to be a "libre" or free road between communities that is used by the regular folk. The toll roads are much faster and some of them even have shoulders--a new concept for some drivers. People tend to use the shoulder as another lane which leads to some interesting situations.

We spent over $20 on tolls just between Culiacan and Mazatlan. It's worth it though as the road is wonderful and you can make very good time. The only stops are for the toll booths. When you come up to a toll booth or "cuota" there are signs telling you far in advance so you can slow down. The important sign to watch for is this one:

Vibradores are rows of big metal domes in the road that force you to slow down to a crawl. Then as you line up waiting to go through the booth you're a sitting duck for all the little kids who want to clean your windshield or the people selling food or CDs or trinkets. Everyone is always very polite though and a shake of the head is usually all that's needed to deter the salespeople.

Harry was captivated with these little cuties. Still, he managed to keep his sales resistance.


Stephanie V said...

Rocks on the road reminded me of a story about some Squamish schoolkids who threw rocks at cars speeding by. They just wanted to get across the road to their schoolbus stop.
Rocks seem to be a universal way to get drivers' attention.

Joanna and Harry said...

You're right. Drivers ignore rocks at their peril.