We rented a pick up truck for our first few days in Mexico. Back in June we left our van with our dear friends in Lake Chapala, which is a 5 hour bus ride from Puerto Vallarta.
Lalo from Gecko Rent A Car was incredibly helpful and gave us a crash course in how to turn on Mexican roads. (Long overdue as we spent 4 weeks driving around Mexico in May and didn’t know any of this important info!)
For those of you who are planning to come help with the La Colina Project: your attention please!
Most main roads in Mexico have two lanes of traffic in each direction with a median in the middle. They also have another two lanes of traffic to each side, which give access to local businesses, gas stations, etc (see picture).
The key to driving in Mexico is to understand that at traffic lights, if you are in the middle lanes, you can only go straight ahead. If you want to turn left or right, you must first exit into the side lanes, and you can only do this when there is a gap that is not at a traffic light.
To turn left, or do a u-turn (retorno) you approach the traffic light in the left hand lane of the side road (or lateral as they seem to call it here) and wait for the green arrow. Only on the green arrow from that specific lane are you allowed to turn left. Have a look at the picture – it helps, but it’s still a pretty crazy system.
Even worse, when on an undivided highway, if you want to turn left, you are supposed to do the same thing, pull to your right, wait for the cars behind you to pass, and then turn left when it is safe to do so. This is partly because driving with your left turn signal on is often taken as an indication to the car behind you that it is safe to pass. Lalo informs us that this is a frequent cause of accidents.
There’s your Mexican driving lesson for the day. Stay tuned for Jayne and Beave’s 4×4 buying adventures.
PS – If you do come to visit, and you want to rent a vehicle, we highly recommend Gecko. Unlike the other car rental places, the price they quote you is the price you pay, including all insurances. They’re also really nice.