When my wife and I moved to Mexico full time back in 2015, one of the things that I had to get used to was a completely different style of driving. I learned quickly that the lines on a road were merely suggestions and that a two-lane road quickly could turn into a three or four lane road. That’s not something that I necessarily like, but I really don’t mind it either.
The thing I like most is that drivers, as a rule, are very patient with one another. In fact, I have never seen a single incident of road rage in five years of driving in Mexico.
By road rage, I’m referring to all of the those discourteous ways that drivers in the United States typically express displeasure to their fellow motorists: tailgating, slamming on their brakes, 3-5 second horn blasts, making rude hand gestures, screaming profanities, and/or trying to get the other driver to engage in a physical confrontation.
I’ve never seen any of those things happen here. Not in urban areas or rural. Not in bumper to bumper traffic or even when someone gets cut off. It’s really been a nice change from what I was accustomed to back in the States.
Putting the Theory to the Test in Baja California
We recently flew into the Mexican city of Tijuana and rented a car to drive to Valle de Guadalupe. That was my first time in Tijuana and I was not familiar with the roads at all. To make matters worse, the sun was setting and traffic was fairly heavy.
We put our faith in the GPS to lead us safely to our destination but quickly discovered that it wasn’t very accurate when it came to roundabouts with multiple roads coming out of them.
“Take the next right” isn’t very helpful when there are potentially half a dozen possible rights. I chose incorrectly a few times only to hear the GPS version of a game show buzzer – “recalculating.”
During this time, I was darting across numerous busy lanes of traffic to make turns, and on one occasion, I even backed up on a one-way road weaving through the slow moving traffic. Not one person ever blew a horn or even appeared to be annoyed at all. Everyone adjusted their driving to accommodate me including coming to a complete stop, if necessary, to let me by.
After we made it to the main toll road that would lead us down the coast toward Valle de Guadalupe, I looked at Linda and asked, “Can you imagine how people would have reacted if I had driven like that in the States?”
“Very differently.” She answered with a smile.
Let’s Wrap This Up
Just to be clear here. I’m not saying that everyone follows the traffic rules here, far from it, people pass on blind curves, make left hand turns from the extreme right lane across multiple lanes of traffic, speed, pass on the shoulder, ignore stop signs etc. — but the thing that is lacking is the anger and the aggressive driving for the sole purpose of exacting revenge against another driver.
That’s why people were so patient with me when I was in Tijuana. My driving that day was actual normal by Mexican standards.
My advice for anyone driving in Mexico for the first time is to keep your head on a swivel, expect the unexpected, be patient, and always be prepared to “adjust” your driving in response to the traffic around you.
Oh, and for goodness sake, stay out of the left hand lane on the highway unless you’re passing. That’s for the high speed folks and you don’t want to get in their way.
Well, that’s it for today. Happy motoring!