How safe is driving a car through Mexico

Oct 24th, 2012, 12:38 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2012
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How safe is driving a car through Mexico

We - a group of 5 people and a dog- are thinking of driving our landcruiser from Taos, New Mexico to Palenque, Mexico. How safe it is too drive cross country in Mexico?
The border crossing at Ciudad Juarez? Mexicali may be better?
Toll roads or local roads.. hmmm, any advice from those who traveled in Mexico recently would be GREAT!
ChaingetheCycle2012 is offline  
Oct 25th, 2012, 01:52 PM
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It really is quite safe to drive in Mexico, but there are a few things to keep in mind. For obvious reasons, the border areas are the most dodgy. Not so much for car jackings etc., but things like shakedowns from fake cops. If you get stopped, don't give them your license, show it to them through the window. Don't speak Spanish even if you can. Play dumb. Don't speed in the border areas. Don't drive at night; there's often people, livestock, rocks and who knows what else in the roadway. Avoid crossing the border on the weekends. I've never crossed at CJ, only at Colombia bridge just north of Laredo, and its hardly ever busy. It might be worth the extra driving time to consider that crossing, as you'll end up spend as little time as possible on Mexican roads. Traversing northern Mexico from Mexicali doesn't seem to make much sense. Once on the highways, the cuotas are fine and your car is insured for damage; stick to them when possible. Make sure you have pesos for the tolls. As far as bringing in a dog, technically he's supposed to have shots verified by a vet 3 days within before you cross. The reality is they rarely check, but something to keep in mind, because if they deny him, you'll have to find a local vet to do it wherever you cross. You'll need a car permit & deposit and they will charge your credit card immediately and refund only the deposit when you leave. If you have your title and registration, bring them. If you have a loan, you'll need notarized permission from your lender to bring the car into Mexico. The credit card MUST be in the name of the person registering the car. Don't forget insurance; there's a number of providers online, or you can buy it before you cross the border. On the road to Palenque, the kids have a scam where they'll raise a rope across the road near the topes to try and get you to stop and buy something. Keep driving slow, and they'll drop it. Or, just buy something.
baldone is offline  
Oct 26th, 2012, 12:31 PM
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I forgot to add, when you leave Mexico be sure to cancel your car permit and either make sure aduana sees you scrape off the sticker or let the agent do it. Keep all your paperwork throughout the trip. Otherwise, you may forfeit your deposit.
baldone is offline  
Oct 28th, 2012, 02:07 PM
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I just drove from Milwaukee to Oaxaca and then on to San Cristobal. total about 3600 miles
We drove only in the day time. We crossed at Bridge 2 at Nuevo Laredo.
* We drove only on cuoto - somewhat expensive but I think much safer and certainly faster
* starting in Texas the amount of truck traffic really grows. From the border to the Arco North just south of San Luis Potosi the trucks were a solid line of traffic. I have heard from other expats here that it is easier on a Sunday - next time I would cross on a Saturday- stay in Mathuala and then do the next portion on a Sunday.
* The arco norte is a must - great road and do anything to avoid Mexico city. It is only marked with a white sign - Puebla Cuoto - right exit.
*when we went thru customs there was no red and green light. Everyone - I mean absolutely everyone - was stopped. We all had to unload to a large degree. We were asked to have a list of what we carried and then everyone was having to pay some duty. There were young men there that had official tags and they helped a lot. they helped us unpack, round up the customs agent, make our list, and repack. I think they are working only for tips - the help he gave us was terrific. We had a very full car and he did a great job of repacking.
* we had been told that police watch closely the road that takes you around Laredo so we opted to go thru town. Very easy and we stopped at a Burger King with free internet to get our acts together and email family we had crossed safely.
* You will be taking the cuota to the vera cruz area and then to Palenque rather than to the coast like I did, my friends from VC have not reported any problems.
* our biggest traffic problem was in San Antonio - my god what traffic at 3:30 in the afternoon.
* remember when you drive the cuota to keep your tickets as you go - if you have to use the free towing service you will need the ticket. we have used it before and it was wonderful.
Teri_Gunderson is offline  
Nov 8th, 2012, 04:10 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 821
How do you know fake cops from real?

Do you give bribes?

What is they want you to get out of the car?

Should they be able to inspect the car at a checkpoint?

jan47ete is offline  
Nov 10th, 2012, 02:27 AM
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Live in San Diego and just got back from Cabo which is very safe but would not drive anywhere else in Mexico now and I don't even go across the border to Tijuana anymore. And I am not the 'fraidy cat type.
Tomsd is offline  
Nov 11th, 2012, 06:26 AM
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I was hoping for some constructive feedback but apperciate you're taking the time to rant.
jan47ete is offline  
Nov 15th, 2012, 01:42 PM
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Federales in their black Dodges are the only ones that can ticket you on highways. The fakes put flashing lights on their dash or on the roof.
I don't pay mordidas to the real cops. If I'm far from a town, I say take me in and I'll pay. In English.
Except on a rare occasion, the only time you'll be asked out of the car is by the army at the borders. They'll have you open the trunk and they'll do a cursory inspection.
baldone is offline  
Nov 15th, 2012, 05:31 PM
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thank you. this and your earlier comments were very helpful. jk
jan47ete is offline  
Nov 17th, 2012, 07:10 AM
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Why a guy like Franko would even look at a Mexican board is beyond me.
While I seldom now drive in Mexico I ride with friends often. In 26 years I have never been in a car stopped by the police real or phony. So what this great danger others talk about I do not know?
A few basic rules.
Do not drive at night as pedestrians,livestock & wildlife abound along many roads. Also Topes (speed bumps) are common so hard to see at night.
Take the toll roads as much as possible. Many comparable to our interstate highway. Get a copy of Guia Roji at a road atlas.
Buy gas often as you can. The stations are all the same owned by the Mexican Government.
Buy Mexican insurance. This is a MUST!. In Mexico if you have a accident without Mexican Insurance no matter who's at fault you will go to jail without it. Do NOT relay on Insurance that your credit cards provides. Buy it before you leave.
Learn the traffic signs meaning in your Guia Roji.
Be polite to everybody
Do Not flash money
If you drink do not drive after even a couple of drinks
Do not go into areas you do not belong.
Thanks it.Have a great trip!
Stewbear is offline  
Nov 19th, 2012, 06:10 PM
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Stewbear makes many good points. And driving through Canada on ice covered roads, to me, is not very safe either. But I will add this. The odds that you'll be pulled over by a cop, real or fake, are greater the closer you are to the border. That's a fact. Mexicans as well as Americans can be a target, Mexicans actually more so. Is the risk greater than being caught in a speed trap in some hick town in the middle of Kansas? Probably not. But being in a foreign country does add to the fear factor, whether there is any real added danger or not. So, being forewarned to the risks is helpful. All that said, I live in Mexico and drive in all the places the state dept. says I shouldn't. I've been stopped only once but never gotten a ticket nor paid a mordida. Doesn't mean it doesn't happen, but it is rare, as I know people that have been. Interestingly, IMO, Mexicans are much better drivers than Americans.
baldone is offline  
Nov 24th, 2012, 12:29 PM
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OK. We read all the material, contacted the Embassy for updates, wrote to friends who knew people who knew people who travel in Mexico and addressed our concerns in this forum. We even made new wills and got really specific and really left our affairs in very detailed order so many friends were fearful of our ever returning. I broke our trip into 3 segments: home to Laredo--OK; Laredo to Saltillo (overnight) anticipate death, kidnapping, being shot at and life in danger; Saltillo to SMA: OK and just worrying about getting to our condo.

We crossed at Laredo, a bit of a bottleneck but did what we had to do and got on he road. Did the recommended: no travel at night, have a full tank and took the toll road. I had read it was gong to be $70 in tolls but was $38. There was one checkpoint, the officer shook my husband's hand, saw the car sticker, wanted the car certificate, I had it in the back in a folder, he said not to bother and waved us on.

Most of the folks at customs in Laredo had US passports although when we questioned them if we were on the right line, no one acknowledge speaking english. From Laredo to Monterrey 95% of the cars on the road had Texas plates. Virtually no signs in english nor any english speakers from Customs to tolltakers and of course the further into the country no one we encountered did.

I would also recommend having very explicit directions for your destination in Palenque, preferably from your host. Google drections were not clear enough once we got to town. I always bring food for the road especially since it woul be snack and lunch from the border to Saltillo.

With all of that Enjoy!
jan47ete is offline  
Nov 27th, 2012, 11:30 AM
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Couple of other things to keep in mind-
1. The 2 lane highways are actually 3 lanes. Don't be shocked when you see another driver straddling the center line as he passes another car that's moved onto the shoulder. Just do the same.
2. A left turn signal means:
baldone is offline  
Nov 27th, 2012, 11:32 AM
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oops, cont.
Left turn signal means:
1. go ahead and pass
2. I'm turning left
3. I forgot to cancel the blinker
baldone is offline  
Nov 27th, 2012, 01:55 PM
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Pefect Baldone! LOL
Stewbear is offline  
Aug 20th, 2014, 09:49 AM
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 1

You can driving to mexico, but for more security also can take a precautions like for example, dont drive at night.

The mexico car insurance is important if you want enjoy your travel.

The insurance can help in situations like collision, medical expenses, legal defense & bail bond y more.....

I recommend at the company Travel Seguro they offers good services.

Jack34 is offline  
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