Driving etiquette in Mexico
Driving in Mexico is arguably one of the most convenient ways to explore the country, but you’ll likely experience challenges and issues on occasion. Tourists, especially from the US and Europe, usually ask if is it safe to drive in Mexico.
If you’re going to be active on the roads in Mexico, be prepared for minor or even major incidents.
There are times when you need to ask the locals for directions. Be polite and well-mannered. Learn basic phrases and try to communicate in Spanish. These efforts will be appreciated. So, let’s talk about the driving etiquette in Mexico.
What to do if your car breaks down in Mexico?
There’s always a risk that your car will break down in Mexico. It can be unsettling, especially when you’re just starting your trip. Get hold of your wits and call for help. In case of such future incidents, here’s some rules to follow:
Slow down and park at the side of the road
When your car’s showing signs of engine trouble, or your tires deflate, gradually slow down. Don’t stop immediately, it may cause further damage to your car, or to the vehicle behind you if there’s one.
Put on your hazard lights and slowly pull to the side of the road, at the farthest side as much as possible. If you’re on a major highway, try to move to the nearest emergency bay or the side with enough space to fit your car.
If you break down on the toll roads, Mexican patrols known as the Angeles Verdes (Green Angels) will offer to help you free of charge, especially in the daytime.
But if your car dies in an isolated area, especially at night, you may have to call your rental car company or your auto insurer.
Driving in Mexico safe and sound should be your priority if a case like a dead engine occurs.
Be mindful when going out of the car
Look at the road first before going outside the car to check the issue. Make sure it’s safe to go outside and that there are no suspicious individuals. Remember to stay away from the road as much as possible when you check your car.
If your car can still run at minimum capacity, drive towards a nearby town or a local establishment.
If your car breaks down at night on major highways or toll roads, the Green Angels will likely assist you. At night, there are fewer of them, but you can call their 24-hour hotline at 078, or in some states, 01-800-987-8224.
But if you’re in a remote area, especially with no lights in the vicinity, you’ll be likely stuck until morning.
Wind up your windows, lock the doors, and if help won’t be coming from your rental company or insurer quickly, try to wait in the backseat. Don’t leave the car to get into the back, just go between the front seats.
Bring out the hazard sign
If you have a hazard sign or a red warning triangle with you, provided by the rental car company, place it behind your car near the road. Hazard signs are not required in Mexico, but they’ll help you.
The sign tells motorists your car’s in trouble, which will prompt them to slow down and assist you.
If you call a mechanic or tow services, they’ll be able to find you easily.
Turn the car wheels away from the road
Remember to keep your car wheels away from the road. If the hand brakes fail, the vehicle won’t move toward the road. It might hit oncoming traffic if the car’s brakes fail and move towards the road.
Don’t let the passengers go out
Don’t let your passengers leave the vehicle, especially at night.
If someone needs to leave the vehicle to call for help, you or another adult will be enough. If you have minors or seniors with you, they should remain inside the car while waiting for assistance.
Crack a window just enough to let the air flow inside, if the air conditioning’s off, but always keep the doors locked, especially at night.
Contact your car rental provider
If you’re renting a car, call the rental company for help and wait for them to arrive. If they can’t reach you in time, and you need to move already, ask them to search and send help from car services near your area.
Ask for help from the locals
If you know Spanish, you’ll have no problem asking locals for driving directions. English is also used in Mexico as most public and private schools in the country offer instruction in English as a second language.
Don’t let cartel movies about Mexico hinder you from asking for help from locals if needed. Most of them are nice and are willing to assist you by calling for help. But only do so in the daytime.
Be aware of scammers or carjackers. If they invite you to an isolated or remote area to wait for help, kindly refuse their offer and wait for help. Be polite when speaking with them.
Still, inform your car rental agency or auto insurer that you need assistance.