Top 10 tips for driving in Mexico

1. Buy good Mexican insurance:
If your involved in an accident, Mexican authorities can take you into custody to determine who’s at fault. Yep, even if somebody rear ends you. If you’re found at fault, you may be held in custody until it’s determined that you’re able to pay for damages. Another great reason to make sure you have good and adequate coverage. Roadside assistance or Mexico’s version of 911 is 066. Call it in the case of a roadside emergency. But State Department warns that this number isn’t always answered. If you find yourself stranded or in danger on the roads, you can call upon Mexico’s roadside-assistance organization, the Green Angels (Angeles Verdes). They’re a bilingual crew of radio-dispatched truck drivers that offers supplies, first aid, car care, and protection. You can alert them by calling 078.

2. Drive slow:
Sharp turns, road obstacles, missing signs, accidents, disabled vehicles, flash floods, animals, etc. are a fact of life on the roads in Mexico. Many a Gringo and Mexican national have met their final fate by being in a rush. As the thousands of roadside alter memorials will attest. Also when you enter a town, really slow down. There will be speed bumps sometimes marker with a sign that says “topes“ but sometime not. Many towns have them and if you hit them at speed, you will be staying in that town for a long time.

3. Never drive at night:
The roads better than they have ever been but night time hazards are many. From sleepy semi truck drivers to wandering cows and wildlife on the road. Plus bad people come out at night; be them drunk or truly bad, night time seems to enhance the bad. Plus the road hazards mentioned above that are always an issue. Night time driving in Mexico is dangerous.

4. Travel with another vehicle:
If possible try to travel with another vehicle if possible. It’s always prudent to travel in groups. Driving is the same in Mexico. Safety in numbers.

5. Fill up with gas often:
Never let your gas tank get lower than a quarter full. Gas maybe be or it might not be at the next gas station. Good rule is always top it off.

6. Policia:
If your pulled over by the Policia and your alone or your traveling with another vehicle then all pull over together. Don’t try to speak Spanish, even if you can, just relax and let them do the talking. Be polite, even if what they are saying doesn’t sound right. DO NOT PULL OUT YOUR WALLET. Let them tell you what to do and what they want. If they ask you to pay on the spot and it sounds unreasonable try negotiating. Remember the Policia make about $42 u.s. per day and this is how it works in Mexico.

7. First Aid:
Carry a good first aid kit, and have a basic understanding of how to use it. If something happens there will not be the sounds of sirens to coming to your rescue. Know how to do basic first aid.

8. Spare Tire:
Make sure you have a spare tire. Make sure your spare tire is in good working order and know how to access it. The roads are littered with sharp debris. Even though there are many “llantas” tire store along the roads. They might not have your rim size, be open or get the quality of tire you want.

9.Don’t drink an drive:
It sounds like a lame public service announcement but it’s true. Drinking and driving in Mexico just brings trouble into your life. If your pulled over or involved in a crash, you are pretty much guaranteed to be spending some time in jail. Wait to have those cold beers and Tequila shots when you reach your destination the end of the day.

10. Embrace your surroundings: 
Stop at roadside stores, engage with the locals, smile, breath deep and enjoy the view. If you drive and don’t engage with the local and their way of life you’ll be missing a major reason for driving in the first place.

But your probably thinking, wait, what about the violence and drug lord loping peoples heads off. Statistic show the violence and drug lord activity exists in the border towns and large cities. The small towns and roadside stores you will encounter on a leisurely drive down the Mexican Federal Highway 1, will not be hot bed of drug lords. With that said, as in all traveling, pay attention to your surrounding and be smart. Follow some basic travel edict like: stay where the people are. Even if a police officer motions you to an ally, say in clear view of the road and people. Don’t buy drugs or other elicit materials. Don’t go flashing giant wades of cash. Things of this nature. It’s very much common sense. So use it.

Keep these 10 tips in mind and you’ll have a very safe and fun experience driving in Mexico.