Just the phrase “driving in Mexico” can begin an endless discussion of passions and strong opinions. The sign Curva Peligrosa, posted on dangerous curves, sounds more like a tropical plant description or the name of a raging dance club. However, the toll roads leading to Puerto Vallarta are well marked; obeying speed limits, observing tope (traffic bumps) notices and heeding warnings is highly advisable.
Mexicans drive very offensively and when one takes skills learned in Puerto Vallarta back to northern homes, one is often complimented on abilities to slip and slide through traffic and park in spaces that look like they may require a crowbar to get out of again.
Whether planning a short trip or a journey that might take several days, it’s wise to check ahead for weather conditions. Driving in the rain means traveling slower and sometimes pulling over all together. Stormy skies should be treated the same as night driving when planning an excursion on the open road.
Mirrors, it should be noted, are not just for combing hair and checking makeup. Using side and rearview mirrors and being aware of what’s behind, as well as what’s ahead is not just prudent but saves lives. The knowledge of approaching and passing trucks and cars, not to mention oncoming emergency vehicles, keeps a driver well prepared. It’s constant vigilance.
When on a two lane highway, with no passing lane, a truck, bus or slow moving car in front of you may use their hazard lights, or simply flash a turn signal to tell the person behind them it’s safe to pass. This is a common practice and the driver ahead of you is just as interested in staying alive as you are; it’s also hazardous to hold up traffic.
Traffic police in Puerto Vallarta don’t tolerate the use of cell phones while driving. If you must answer a call or return a text, pull over. A ticket means going to the police station to pay a fine and in most cases to get your driver’s license back, which will have been confiscated at the time of infraction. Fines are not heavy but the inconvenience of taking the time to stand in line to be frowned at by a magistrate could better be spent having margaritas on the beach.
Driving at night is highly unadvisable not because of banditos, which exist mainly in Hollywood and thrilling novels. Slow moving trucks, vehicles without proper operating lights, potholes and ruts in the pavement and the dreaded topes are all perilous to the nighttime driver. Because of the lack of fences or retaining walls, there is often livestock on the road and one doesn’t see them coming around the curva peligrosa. Buen viaje and drive carefully.
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