THURSDAY, APRIL 4, 2019
You might know that certain parts of Mexico present safety risks to foreign tourists. Indeed, one of the most-common precautions you have likely heard is that you shouldn't drive after dark. Why is that?
It isn't to say that driving in Mexico after dark is unsafe in all cases. However, drivers who do choose to do so have to keep a few extra safety precautions in mind. Therefore, if you do plan to drive, either on road trips or just on errands, it is better to do so usually during the day. But, if you choose to head out after dark, keep a few safety steps in mind.
Threats to American Drivers in Mexico
Most Americans drive to Mexico and don't encounter a single driving issue. However, if you fail to keep your security in mind, you might face safety risks.
For example, there are clear reports of organized crime in certain parts of the country. Crime tends to spike after dark, so if you take the road in these areas, you might face risks. Not only that, in many cases, Mexico does not boast the same infrastructure security as the U.S. Therefore, drivers will likely need to slow down and take their time after dark. Differences in driving customs and pedestrian habits might also increase driving risks at all times1, especially after the sun goes down.
So, if you are not familiar with driving in Mexico, you should likely stay off the roads at night. However, if you do plan to go out, you should keep an eye out for some of the following threats.
Robbers, gangs and other criminals are present in parts of Mexico. They do not exist everywhere, nor are they an epidemic. However, they do threaten Americans, and sometimes use relatively simple tactics to stop, distract and take advantage of American drivers.
- There are reports that certain criminals pose as police or stranded motorists to get American drivers to stop. They might use this guise to detain, rob, harm or steal the cars of Americans.
- In urban areas, street violence exists in certain neighborhoods.
- Mountainous and deeply-rural areas are often home to criminal trafficking rings. They tend to travel and operate only under cover of darkness.
Rural Road Condition Risks
In many parts of Mexico, the infrastructure is not as developed as in the cities. Therefore, it might be harder for you to drive through certain areas.
- Local roadways are often not well-maintained, or even unpaved. Therefore, they might have damaged shoulders, potholes and other issues. When you drive at night, you cannot see these risks as clearly as during the daytime.
- Many rural routes do not have street lamps present. Therefore, you might have only your headlights to guide you. While these often suffice, you will have to slow down and pay close attention to the roads.
- There are reports of loose livestock in certain farming communities. These animals might spontaneously wander into roadways at any times. It might be very hard for you to see them after dark.
- Sometimes, drivers in Mexico do not use their headlights in efforts to save battery lives or gasoline. Therefore, you might run into a situation where you approach another car and do not see it. Your risks of accidents might go up if you don’t see other vehicles.
City Safety Risks
Even in major Mexican cities, driving risks will exist after dark.
- Some areas lack sidewalks, prompting pedestrian traffic to spill into the streets. Therefore, the risks of colliding with pedestrians might go up at night.
- Again, in certain urban areas, gang violence and crime increase after dark. Therefore, parts of cities are unsafe, especially after dark.
Staying Safe on the Road at Night
The risks of any crime tends to increase after dark. Therefore, just as you would not drive to certain areas of your own town after dark, you shouldn't do so in Mexico.
Still, if you do need to drive after dark, keep the following safety risks in mind:
- Always stay on Federal Toll Roads. These roads are the best-maintained and most easily accessible for tourists.
- Keep your doors locked and windows rolled up at all times.
- Do not stop for anyone. If someone tries to stop you, make sure it is a marked police or emergency services car.
- Keep your lights on and use high-beam lights as necessary.
- Slow down in populated areas. Give ample berth to other cars and pedestrians.
- Make a travel plan. Try to get from place to place only during the daylight hours.
- Keep your Mexico car insurance and your license and registration in the vehicle.
If you become stranded on the road after dark, Mexico does have help available. You can call your local police department or emergency services by dialing 911, the same as in the states.
Mexico also boasts the Green Angels (Angeles Verdes) roadside assistance services. The Green Angels are trained vehicle mechanics and service providers. You can reach them by dialing 078 on a mobile or landline phone. The Green Angels can also offer tourist assistance, if necessary. In dire emergencies, don’t neglect to call the U.S. embassy in Mexico city, or a local Mexican consulate.
Also Read: Your Car Gets Stolen in Mexico. What Can You Do?
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