Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Happy Motoring! August 2009

Photo: Gigi Taylor
Drive carefully, the paramedics aren't dying to meet you -
and they don't want you dying to meet them!


I’ve been driving around this country, off and on, for over 35 years and I’ve finally managed to make some sense out of the way it works.

There’s the legal way.

There’s the common sense way.

Then there’s the way it is way.

Here are some points to ponder:

  • Absolutely anything can and will happen. Expect anything and everything.
  • If there’s any doubt, the big guy gets the right of way, like Coca Cola trucks, buses, and big rigs. Also those menacing looking giant Mexican trucks that have lots of chrome, mudflaps with those perky little silver women cutouts on them, doll's heads for gear shift knobs, and the appearance of not having had any brakes since 1972.
  • Do what the guy with the gun says – to a point, that is. It’s defining that point that's hard and can get edgy. Especially when being hustled for mordida. See farther down.
  • Many 2 lane highways will spontaneously turn into 4 lane or even 6 - as needed. Live with itl
  • Buy good, reputable Mexican auto insurance that comes with an adjuster and an attorney who will respond to the scene of the accident if you should have one. Make copies of all your documents: car insurance, drivers license, ownership papers, title, etc. The transitos cannot take your license or impound your car unless you are involved in a drunk driving charge or a wreck with a fatality and it’s your fault.
  • If you are involved in a serious accident, sometimes both parties go to jail until all the paperwork and insurance is sorted out. That’s why you need proof of insurance and a company that sends an attorney to you. Unless you leave the scene of the accident which is certainly not unheard of here.
  • DON'T PAY MORDIDA. Ask for the ticket. No matter how much dancing around the cop is doing. Say “Dame el folio, por favor.” (Dah may el fó li o). It is against the law to pay a bribe (tell the cop that), the tickets are very cheap, there is no DMV type computer system to track you down, and if you pay the ticket in 5 days you get 50% off. Paying the ticket is usually waaaay cheaper than emptying your wallet out to the thug. Not only that, if it didn't pay off so well, they wouldn't do it.
  • When a driver signals a left turn, either with his arm or with his blinker, that means it's safe for you to pass him. OR, it means he's turning left. You choose.
  • When approaching a narrow bridge at night, whoever flashes the high beams first gets the right of way. Mostly.
  • Better yet, never drive at night.
  • If you are being pulled over at night, don’t stop until you are in a well-lit and/or a public place. There have been incidents where bad guys use flashing lights to pull people over and then rob them. Don’t stop unless you are safe or absolutely sure they are the cops.
  • Keep your vehicle in good running condition, but if it should break down, chances are there will be a group of very nice Mexican men that will come to help you get going again, and will not take one centavo for it, and will enjoy every minute of helping you.
  • Traffic signs - like STOP, or NO PASSING - are merely suggestions.
  • The Mexican Department of Tourism has utility trucks that drive the highways of Mexico with amazingly talented guys that can administer first aid and get cars rolling again with just about nothing. They patrol the main highways and they’re affectionately known as Los Angeles Verdes (The Green Angeles) because they drive green trucks and everybody loves them. Well, they used to drive green trucks, now they are white with green. Their services are free of charge but if you ask them what you owe them they will say “Whatever you like.” Tip the guys, you may need them again!
  • Repeating: Tip the guys, you may need them again!


  1. Great piece. You helped remind me of some of the things I had forgotten during my 70s driving days in Mexico. But I think most of my old ways are just that -- old.

  2. Hey Steve, thanks!
    I know what you mean, much of that was derived from my driving here in those days too.
    Old = wise, no?

  3. Leaving Joco yesterday towards the Cuota there was a gringa (I think)sitting in her SUV in the ditch about 10 feet below road level in a few feet of water. A few others stopped to assist and few places to pull over.

    I assume she was involved in one of those crazy passing situations and didn't have room - or thought she didn't. She looked to be in one piece

  4. Hey Sparky! Took me awhile to figure out who you were. Glad you made it home in one piece.
    I guess if she was rubber side down she's ok, haven't heard anything about who it might be.
    How's it going down there?
    Which one of your blogs/sites do you post most often in? Want to add it to the blogroll.

  5. This is the original and the one most up to date. The others may become very slow with this move


    BTW ... if you are on someones Blog Roll you go to the top with new posts. They didn't have Blogrolls when I started so mine are static links

  6. Ok, gotcha on the blogroll. Now you have to write something! Guess you'll have a lot of material in the pipe, the move and all.