I think we answer this question at least 10 times a day. Is it safe to drive in Mexico? Should I rent a car or hire a driver? Driving in Mexico is no different from driving in North America except for a few unwritten road rules that make driving safer. These unwritten driving rules are for safety, but if you are unaware of these rules it could seem a bit confusing. If you are New Yorker, you know the unwritten driving rules in New York. If you are from any city there are cultural driving courtesies that are useful to know. The Riviera Maya is not any different, and when you know these rules you may even adopt them back home.
First, driving is safe in the Riviera Maya. If you are not comfortable driving in areas that are unfamiliar to you, take public transport and play it safe for you. If you are a confident driver, get behind the wheel and know these rules:
1. The right hand shoulder is used to let cars pass. If a driver slows down and pulls over the right with their indicator on, it means they are allowing you to pass. Cars coming in the opposite direction will also veer to the right to let you pass if room is needed. Just make sure that there is a paved shoulder for them to use!
2. If a car ahead of you puts on their hazard lights while driving it means they are starting to slow down either for a speed bump, or pedestrian cross walk. Slow down too and put on your hazards so that the cars behind you know that you are slowing down as well. This is a brilliant addition to driving signals and has come in handy many a times.
3. Look both ways at a stop sign. Full stops are not necessarily observed so proceed with caution. For whatever reason it seems that the stop sign is a rolling stop, not a full stop so proceed carefully and remember that not everyone thinks the stop sign is a full stop.
4. If you need to make a left hand turn on a two lane highway pull over to the right and wait for a clear path. This applies more to the back roads than the 307 highway where left hand turns can only be made where the median breaks. In many cases you need to use a return lane and travel back on the highway to get to your destination. The signs for a return lane are called ‘returnos’ in Spanish.
5. Speed bumps are everywhere to maintain speed and public safety. Watch out for them as not all speed bumps have a sign indicating they exist.
6. Wear your seat belt, don’t drink and drive and if the rains come, slow down, turn your lights on and ride it out. The highways can get large pools of water so play it safe.
We drive all over the place, and when you understand these driving rules, life is much easier and driving much safer. Check out our maps of the highways in the Riviera Maya to see the main highway 307 and all the groovy back roads that make traveling through the Rivera Maya so interesting. For short trips use public transportion. For an adventure, rent a car and apply your new found knowledge.
Helpful links for Rental Cars