Just about everyone has heard some story about someone’s experience driving in Mexico. Between highway robberies, military checkpoints and the sometimes infamous encounters with police, many tourists automatically have a negative connotation when it comes to driving in the beautiful country of Mexico. Fortunately, most of those rumors are wildly exaggerated, and as long as you make smart decisions while behind the wheel, driving can actually make your trip much more enjoyable because you will be free to move about at your leisure. The road quality is great between Cancun and Tulum due to a major highway expansion, so hit the road after reviewing these tips for a (relatively) smooth ride.
Keep Your Speed Down
In and around towns, there are topes (seriously tall speed bumps) which can be hard to spot and quite damaging to your car if you hit them at full speed. Topes appear infrequently on the main highway, but ginormous potholes also pose a major threat, especially if you don’t see them coming. If you do find yourself broken down after hitting one of these impediments, you may get lucky if the Green Angels are out and about in their green trucks. They are dispatched by the department of tourism and generally very helpful, but pretty rare to encounter. If you are fortunate enough to get their help, they will fix your car and just charge you for the cost of the parts, although it is important to tip them as well.
Pass With Extreme Care
It is very easy to underestimate how fast other cars are going, so be absolutely sure you have plenty of room before proceeding. If you misjudge your space after beginning to pass, other drivers are known to make it difficult to get back in your lane, somehow punishing you for your mistake. There is typically nowhere to pull off except for a ditch as most of the highway is not equipped with shoulders, which isn’t a pretty sight going at highway speeds.
Avoid Driving at Night
This is a big one- the majority of fatal accidents in the area occur at night for a number of reasons including cars driving without lights, drunk drivers, drunk pedestrians in the road, cows or other animals in the road, potholes and no reflective lines on the highway. Follow the lead of the Green Angels, who don’t drive in the area at night because of the dangers. That should say it all. If you are driving any sort of distance, ensure you have adequate time to reach your destination before it’s dark out.
Sundays Deserve Extra Vigilance
As Sunday is the most commonly observed day off in the country, be extra cautious from Saturday night through Monday morning and treat every car you encounter as though it were being operated by someone who is drunk. This also extends to pedestrians, as drunken people in or near the roadway can pose a huge risk too. Payday is another time to stay alert (the 15th and 30th of each month).
Make Smart Choices
Sadly, there are countless tourists who take a vacation from common sense as well as their everyday lives when driving in Mexico. Sure, the laws are different and the locals seem to do whatever they want, with kids hanging out the windows, driving around drunk, families piling into the beds of pickup trucks, you name it, but that doesn’t mean you should follow suit. If you wouldn’t do it in your home country, you shouldn’t do it anywhere.