DEATH ON THE LEFT: DRIVING IN MEXICO
So you want to drive in Mexico? Well, for the most part, the basics are the same as the U.S…. With one major difference that could be a matter of life and death. When driving on the smaller two-lane highways of Mexico, there’s a ton of aggressive passing, or overtaking – it’s like a national bloodsport. Putting on your left directional, under these driving conditions, means “Its ok to pass me on the left, bro'”. As in overtake/pass me on the left… It does NOT mean you are about to turn left, across the oncoming lane (as in the US), so imagine the consequences of that screw up! Bamm!! You’re hit from the car behind you, that thinks you’ve just signaled them to pass you on the left! This is when that ‘matter of life and death maneuver’ comes into play.
I almost learned the hard way – I was damn lucky is what I was. On highway 307, just north of Tulum in Quintana Roo, Yucatan. I put my left directional on, signaling and turned – almost caused a pile up behind me. Must have been a mayan god watching out for me, since I luckily made it through my turn – with no idea what really happened. I thought the Mexican drivers were loco – honking their horns like crazies.
Less than ten seconds into my diversion, a jeep pulled up alongside me and an American signaled me to pull over – yelling what a lucky son of a b**tch I was. He had seen the entire near collision scenario, and proceeded to explain the meaning of a left turn signal to me – with the tone of addressing a knucklehead. And when it dawned on me, I felt like one.
So, what do you do when making a left hand turn on a main road in Mexico? Pull into the right shoulder while signaling left, and wait for a complete break in the traffic in both directions. Then dart across both lanes when it’s clear. Yep. Serious info that could seriously save your life. You’re welcome.