Nov 30, 2011, 10:02 AM
Post #15 of 20
I suspect that we each have had different driving experiences in Mexico, and each driver is then entrenched in their perspectives: some casual and confident, others cautious. For expats with limited driviing experience in Mexico, consider how Mexico is different from Canada or the USA. If you have driven on the very poor Rosebud or Pine Ridge reservations, you might have some sense of the surprises that occur at night on Mexican roads.
Do we expect to suddenlly to find ourselves on a 5 mile section of freshly paved highway on a slightly winding road that we've driven a hundred times? What if there are no lines of any kind painted, and it is a very dark moonless night? Consider that you can't see the dropoffs at the edges of the pavement because the construction removed all roadside markers and signs. Then consider that the other drivers also cannot see where their lanes are and can barely see the fresh black pavement on a black night. This causes drivers to weave from the left shoulder over to the right,crossing your "lane", due to the curves and no lines. We spent a white-knuckled half hour driving 10 mph negotiating this stretch of highway, much worse than any Midwestern blizzards we've encountered.
Do we expect to round a curve on a 2 lane road to find two double semi-remolques - side-by-side - coming head-on at you in your lane with no shoulders to pull off onto? Double-trailer rigs are very long and they take a long time to pass each other? And this happens on a well traveled road that you know well, but that out-of-state truck driver does not know the road.
Do we expect to drive off an unmarked un-signed 10 inch dropoff on a modern 4-lane divided highway just a mile out of town in a flat smooth section of expressway? Your car has just dropped into construction zone of a heavily potholed section of gravel road, throwing your car sideways into a skid?
Do we expect to be cruising along a modern highway with broad shoulders, and round a curve to find a mattress in the roadway, an oncoming car, and a local guy with a load of lena pedaling his carguero on the shoulder?
Do we expect to be passing a double semi-remolque on a beautiful well-maintained modern 4 lane toll road, and find that the shoulder has been replaced with a high curb and there's now a 6 foot chunk of curled 8 inch wide rubber from a re-tread tire that delaminated in your lane, and you have no way out, except to run over the chunk of tire and suck it up into your motor and then your suspension?
Do we expect to round a curve on a beautiful mountain highway at night to find an unmarked section where 3/4's of the roadway has been washed out by a that afternoon's flash flood - in a section that you just drove that morning?
Do we expect to encounter a Junior driving his Ferrari at 305 kmph to show-off for his friends who are video-ing the idiot for internet posting.
Things are DIFFERENT here. There are few policeman patrolling the roadways to remove road hazards. There are few policemen here to enforce passing laws, and speeding laws. Many drivers here do not secure their loads, and stuff falls-off without their notice. There is a mix of state-of-the art OTR rigs going 70 mph and 5 mph indiginos hauling bicycle loads of firewood back home to mama after an evening of drinking balche at their milpas. There seems to be no system of marking or signing construction, and sections of super highways can go weeks without having lines painted.
I've been driving at night here on and off for 26 years, and found that even experienced drivers who know Mexico and Mexican roads very well can get big surprises at night, even when driving "safe" boring roads that they know like the back of their hands, because the levels of policing, maintenance, and standards are just not like Canada or the USA.
If you are somewhat uncomfortable or surprised with routine daytime driving events in Mexico - dodging unexpected potholes - junk that falls off peoples' loads - animals on the roadway - etc, then I would think twice about driving in the countryside at night. We tend to follow a well experienced professional driver, like an OTR or bus driver, who sit's up high, sees further, and knows the road well, when driving highways at night in Mexico.
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