Navigating Mexico: I Love Driving in Mexico

Photo: The Emily Post Institute


Call me crazy, but I love driving in Mexico.

Whenever the topic comes up, I tell people that, and the usual response is, “Are you a glutton for punishment?” or some more colorfully worded reaction.

I have never been to India. Driving in India is supposedly truly intense.

Rome was crazy and I survived. Nairobi was erratic and I hit nothing. For Spain, I have to take a monthlong course that I actually had to pay for, even before I could apply for the driver’s license exam.

In Mexico, I still have the permanent license, with no expiration date, for life.  I do not think any other country offers that. So I love driving in Mexico.

When I drive in the United States, I am deathly afraid of the police. Having studied law in Mexico, I know the law here and love chatting with the police.

When I was young, I drove from Mexico City to the border in Laredo, Texas. After a long drive, finally crossing over the border, that last stretch of four hours from Laredo to San Antonio, so straight and so boring, I thought for sure I would fall asleep. It seemed longer than the rest of the trip.

Not the case in Mexico City. A stop sign for the crossing traffic should mean stop, but it really means maybe, so while I have the right of way, it means I need to assess.

A light turning to green, means I have the right of way. But still, I need to assess. Will the last three cars run their red? Probably yes, so I need to assess when green really means go for me.

Mexico has a simple rule when it comes to collisions: Él que pega, paga. (He who hits, pays pays.) Without liability insurance, if damage is involved, you are going to jail in Mexico. However, the opposite also holds true: If you do not hit anything, all is good.

I like that. Mexican drivers are much more defensive. There are fewer accidents.

Driving without the license in your possession in the United States will likely mean jail time. In Mexico, it is an administrative fine.

Getting a ticket in Mexico and paying it within seven days, in many jurisdictions, means a 50-percent reduction of the fine. In the United States, your insurance premium goes up and you might need a to take out a loan to just pay your fine.

I love driving in Mexico.

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