Driving and Navigating

Driving in the Monterrey is competitive. Your defensive driving skills will be put to the test, but you will soon learn that there are “rules” of the road. You will be consistently surprised at the “decisions” drivers make and the so called “rules”. There are several driving habits in Mexico that may appear to be rude, but are not intended to insult other drivers. These activities have just become acceptable rules of the road. Attempting to make a double left hand turn in the United States would be an automatic traffic violation, but here it is very common. Be alert for cars on your right turning left in front of you. Drivers also tend to only drive the front half of their cars, this causes them to drift over and cut off the car behind them. This practice is particularly bad in traffic circles.

Right turns on red are prohibited unless you see a “continua con precaución” sign at the intersection. Drivers turning right may not look for pedestrians attempting to cross, so beware!

Driving on the open road requires extra diligence. Cars often pass on blind curves or with oncoming traffic. Typically, on road with one lane in each direction there is often a hard shoulder. It is customary for cars being passed to drive on the hard shoulder to allow the passing car more space. Be careful, you may need to drive on the hard shoulder to avoid a car passing in the opposite direction.

When attempting to pass a vehicle on the open road the car in front may suddenly display a left turn signal. This is may be the driver’s signal to you that it is safe to pass. Always check first before beginning to pass.

Drivers making left hand turns from busy highways will pull to the far right side of the road, stop and then make a left turn. Beware of cars on the right shoulder of the road; they may suddenly turn left in front of you! Be careful when turning left at an intersection in the city as the car behind you may think you are giving them the signal to pass or that you are going to stop on the right first and then turn left.A car approaching you with flashing headlights is usually warning you of danger up ahead. Lookout for broken-down cars in the road or other hazards. Tree limbs or rocks in the road are also signals for road hazards.

Speed bumps, called “topes” are everywhere in Mexico. These treacherous asphalt or metal bumps are even placed on the open highways in Mexico. Be on the lookout for warning signs that look like two small hills painted in black. If you are lucky enough to see the warning sign, immediately decrease your speed as the signs are sometimes placed only a short distance from the actual tope.Always follow common-sense precautions: wear your seatbelt, carry a flashlight, road flares, and a first aid kit.
ACCIDENT PREVENTION

The best way to avoid an accident in Mexico is to drive defensively. Fortunately, because there are so many bad drivers here, many others drive defensively too. Expect the worst and you will be prepared to deal with it. As in most parts of the U.S. and other countries, seatbelts are required by law in Mexico. Insurance is not a legal requirement for driving in Mexico, but you would be foolish not to have it. Make sure that your car is insured and that you have a valid Mexican policy.

Here are some tips that may be useful to you. For one, don’t come to a full, complete stop at a stop sign (Alto) until you have checked first in your rearview mirror to see if the car behind you has the same idea. Remember that many drivers here treat stop signs as YIELD signs, if they acknowledge them at all. YIELD signs are heeded even less. At cross streets and intersections, not controlled by traffic lights or the police, assume that you don’t have the right-of-way because, even if you do, it may not be recognized by others. In addition, when the light turns green at an intersection, don’t proceed until you have looked carefully for cars which might come flying through the intersection. Be careful not to jump green lights, even when you’re in a hurry. Get used to drivers changing lanes without using their turn signals. Abrupt lane changes are common and can easily lead to accidents. You can reduce the chances of an accident while driving in Monterrey if you remember the following: drive defensively and be vigilant at all times. If you plan to change lanes don’t forget to check behind and to the sides. Passing on the right at high speeds is common.

Alto – You could be ticketed for not stopping, but don’t assume that other drivers will stop.

DesviacionTranslates “Detour” but once you are off the main road there may be little guidance from there. Try to have a map handy.A great city map called GuiaRoji. You can purchase it in 7-11’s or OXXO’s. The map is set up on a grid system with great detail; it is a lifesaver to keep in all your vehicles.

HIGH RISK ACCIDENT SITE

The city’s traffic circles, called glorietas, are intimidating at first, but learning a few simple rules is all it takes to master these obstacles. Always yield to the cars on your left as you enter the circle. When there is a break in the traffic on your left you may proceed into the circle and cross. Be warned! In most countries, traffic circles have lanes, with the outside lane being designed to take the first exit and the inside lane for continuing on to the next exit. The lanes here do not exist and it is not uncommon for someone in the outside lane to suddenly put on their left indicator and cut across the “lanes” of the circle.

Calzadadel Valle and San Pedro intersect at a very large glorieta. All traffic approaching the rotunda must stop. Cars inside the rotunda have the right-of-way. Traffic exits the circle from all three lanes. Never assume drivers in the far left, inside lane will not exit to the right. At times, the second lane is going around the circle and the inside vehicle wants to exit. Use extreme caution at all times!

TRAFFIC TICKETS

If you are pulled over for a traffic violation, be polite, accept the ticket, and ask where you can pay it – dondepago? Do not offer “tips” or bribes in any form! In the event that the policeman should suggest anything other than a normal solution to a traffic violation, a notation should be made of his badge number, name tag or police vehicle number.

PARKING

Make sure to never park where the curb has been painted yellow. Also, if there is a red “E” with a line through it, this also indicates no parking. If you park in these areas you run the risk of being towed .Estacionamiento means “Parking”. A parking lot is usually safe as long as someone is on duty. Attendants often wear quasi-official tan uniforms. Park in well lit areas and try to leave shopping centers before closing time. Remove from the vehicle all valuables or other objects which might be mistaken as valuables. As in any large city, be cautious! The amount of a parking ticket fine and the places to pay are listed on the back of your ticket. One place you can pay is at OXXO stores.

GAS STATIONS

Gas stations, which are government run and called Pemex, are conveniently located around the city. Two grades of gasoline are available: Magna Sin (green pump, 87 octane, unleaded) and Magna Premium (red pump, 94 octane, leaded). Diesel fuel is only available in a few gas stations. Price of gas is about 50% higher than in the U.S. and tends to increase. However, you can claim tax and eventually get reimbursed (see IVA section).  You will experience the full service attention that is not always available elsewhere.

  • Make sure that the pump is set to zero (00.00) when filling the tank
  • If you add oil or gas treatments, make sure that the bottle is full. Otherwise, you may be paying for the air in the bottle.

Make sure you get back all your change. Sometimes the attendant will give you all your paper money and hesitate to see if you will wait for the coins or if you even realize that you have not received all your money. After all this, is he has washed your windows, filled the air in your tires, or any other “extra” give him a tip, propina, of $5 – $10 pesos.

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