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Cars to Avoid in Mexico

Acquiring a driver’s license in Mexico City can be done with a concerning level of ease. You just bring your passport & your visa (showing you’re in the country legally) to the Secretaria de Transportes y Vialidad, and after an hour- you are good to go! No written exams, no driving test, no nothing.

This level of rigor is duly reflected in the skill levels of drivers around here, as I have alluded to previously. Mastering the unwritten rules of the road definitely took me a few weeks, but now I have learned to drive as crazily as the rest of ‘em. Some key tips include:

  • Never use your turn signal (sign of weakness & alerts others to your secret desires, i.e. to be in the left lane)
  • Never make eye contact (also sign of weakness)
  • When you see a car at an intersection a block ahead of you debating whether to pull out in front of you, give your horn a few rapid honks. This translates as “If you dare pull out in front of me I will slam into your car with the wrath of a thousand angry burros”
  • If their car is crappier than yours, they will win when it comes to who gets to merge first. (they have less to lose)
  • Never drive in the far right lane, as it is constantly littered with peseros stopping to pick up/drop off passengers, cars parked with their hazard lights on, and guys riding 3-wheeled carts selling water jugs/breakfast breads/other tasty morsels.

Anyway, I often wonder how the more timid among us manage to get up the nerve to start driving in this city. The answer is right here:

I think the phrase I'm looking for is "cruising for a bruising"...

I think the phrase I'm looking for is "cruising for a bruising"...

Of all the cars on the road, I fear these the most– with the “Auto School– Caution” warning emblazoned on their rear. I guess I should be appreciative of the fraction of the percentage of DF residents who actually try to learn how to drive from a professional. Unfortunately, these instead strike me as both accident magnets and weaklings who are just waiting to be naturally selected. God bless those Auto School instructors who put their lives on the line daily to try and teach a subject that really can’t be taught… it can only be learned through experience. :)

As for me, I am steering clear of these bright-eyed pupils…outside of giving them the quadruple warning honk if they even consider venturing near my lane while clipping along at 15mph… :)

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8 Comments on “Cars to Avoid in Mexico”

  1. #1 Amanda
    on Dec 1st, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    I needed this laugh! Ohhhhh so very true

  2. #2 Nancy
    on Dec 1st, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Interesting! In Mazatlán we paid the “in the know dude” 1,000 pesos and he did it all, while we leaned on the wall. He only called us over to get our pictures taken and sign something. (Of course the rest of the city was waiting in line after line to do the same thing) Here there is a driving test and also a written test that is quite strangely worded I hear. KInd of chicken sh*t of us to pay the dude instead of muscling through but we really didn’t want to waste a whole day messing with it. Us retired types have got full schedules, you know!

    We did have to bring the official lab results of our blood type, and it is printed on the face of our license.

  3. #3 Twitter Trackbacks for Cars to Avoid in Mexico – Midwesterner in Mexico [midwesternerinmexico.com] on Topsy.com
    on Dec 1st, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    [...] Cars to Avoid in Mexico – Midwesterner in Mexico http://www.midwesternerinmexico.com/2009/12/01/cars-to-avoid-in-mexico – view page – cached Acquiring a driver’s license in Mexico City can be done with a concerning level of ease. You just bring your passport & your visa (showing you’re in the country legally) to the Secretaria de… Read moreAcquiring a driver’s license in Mexico City can be done with a concerning level of ease. You just bring your passport & your visa (showing you’re in the country legally) to the Secretaria de Transportes y Vialidad, and after an hour- you are good to go! No written exams, no driving test, no nothing. View page [...]

  4. #4 Michael Wolf
    on Dec 1st, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    There used to be driving tests in the DF, but they did away with them in, I think, 2004. Certainly when I got mine, in March of 2005, the procedure I went through was similar to the one you described — although I don’t think it even took a whole hour.

    I was going to say “actual driving tests” above, but from what I gather, using the word actual would be a real misnomer: to pass the test you had to bribe the right person or right people. Supposedly (details are, as always, very sketchy) they changed the system to eliminate that bit of corruption. I’m honestly not sure whether that was the right move, all things considered.

  5. #5 Taylor Jackson
    on Dec 1st, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    This is one of the best laughs I have had all day! What you describe sounds like a typical driving experience in Atlanta. We’re all wonderfully insane motorists. Why bother “asking” for the lane next to you with a turn signal when you can just take the space? Stop signs, yield signs, and even traffic lights? Merely suggestions.

    Something tells me that I will feel right at home on the roads of DF, should I ever get behind the wheel!

  6. #6 SAS
    on Dec 3rd, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Never seen your blog before but great topic! When I saw the title I thought the body of the text was going to be:
    - Pointers
    - Chevys

    Because I think Pointer drivers are the absolute WORST and Chevy is a close second. Have you noticed this?

    P.S. re: a previous commenter — according to my husband, the system was changed because the government considered it better to have the majority of drivers in some system even if they have never gotten behind a wheel, than to have the very few people who were willing to take the test.

  7. #7 ricardo
    on Apr 25th, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    wow! it’s nice to know the opinion of a foreigner,
    i drive every day and i agree with all your points,
    nevertheless i must add the crazy driving of the taxi drivers,
    they are the worst thing of my day,
    very funny

  8. #8 Julie
    on Apr 26th, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Thanks Ricardo! Estoy totalmente de acuerdo– los taxistas son locos y se parecen que no cuidan ni por sus vidas ni por las de otros! :)

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