Labor Day is fast approaching, and this is many people’s last chance to take a summer vacation. If you have a motorcycle and live near the border, this might be the time that you decide to take a road trip to Mexico. You can see breathtaking natural beauty and unique cultural attractions. Nevertheless, by biking in a foreign country, you experience unique personal risks. What are some of these challenges? How can you prevent issues?
In the end, riding in Mexico is a lot like doing so in the U.S. However, you must use common sense, and avoid risky decisions when you get behind the handlebars.
Differences in Mexican Driving Customs
Although Mexican and American driving laws are similar, they still differ in custom. Furthermore, certain road hazards exist in Mexico that you don’t necessarily see in the U.S. Think about some situations with which you might not have familiarity.
- Passing and signaling customs differ in Mexico. At times, some drivers use their blinkers to signal to other drivers to go around them. This might lead to confusion if you don’t know what to do in these situations.
- Some areas do not have sidewalks, and many pedestrians walk along roadways. You still have a responsibility to look out for pedestrian hazards.
- Many roads to do not have shoulders. This can create risky situations when passing vehicles or when another motorist is stranded on the road.
- In certain areas, there’s a high risk of highway crime. Various criminals often target tourists because they might not prepare for such hazards.
- The federal police occasionally establish vehicle checkpoints to crack down on highway crime. While these are generally mere inconveniences, Americans should cooperate with the authorities.
- Left-hand exits are often more prevalent in certain parts of the country compared to the U.S.
Each of these, are situations that you might not experience in the states. However, because you are traveling on Mexican roads, you must follow local law. Therefore, take steps before and during your trip to keep yourself and your bike safe.
Step One: Get Mexico Motorcycle Insurance
Your American motorcycle insurance will not cover you in Mexico. That’s because of differences in the national insurance requirements of each country. Still, you must carry insurance under Mexican law. The law applies to American drivers just the same as Mexican drivers.
Sanborn's offers the following Coverage on Mexican Motorcycle Insurance Policies
Third Party Liability up to $500,000 CSL (as required by Mexican law)
Excess Liability in case of the death of a third party
Legal Assistance and Bail bond
Accessories and Safety Gear
Premier Package - Including Vandalism and Partial Theft
24/7 Claims Call Center
Nationwide adjusters in Mexico
Motorcycle Repairs can be made in the U.S. – includes U.S. labor rates
Claims settled in U.S. dollars
Make sure you get coverage before you travel across the border. You can buy it for one day and up to one year.
Step Two: Carry Valid Travel Information
Mexico will recognize most American drivers licenses. Carry a valid license (with motorcycle endorsements) with you always. In certain cases, you’ll also need a vehicle importation permit. This depends on where and how long you plan to travel in the country.
Step Three: Stick to Federal Roads
Mexico has a variety of road systems. Federally-maintained roads and toll roads are among the safest travel options for bikers. The Mexican government funds and oversees construction on these thoroughfares. They often have similar construction and lighting standards similar to American highways. You’ll also likely have better access to roadside assistance services.
If you use a toll road, you will have to pay a fee, the price of which depends on the size of the vehicle. The fees are charged in pesos, make sure you carry enough cash to pay for the tolls.
The U.S. State Department and Mexican authorities often make the following recommendations for drivers.
- Do not drive at night, particularly in mountainous or rural areas. Risks in these areas might include a lack of lighting, the presence of pedestrians or loose livestock, no shoulder on the road or criminal elements.
- Always store and secure your bike as tightly, if not more tightly, as usual. Arm your security system; use a chain lock and take all your valuables with you.
- If you encounter any problems on the road, contact the authorities or your insurer. If you need roadside help, Mexico provides a free assistance service called the Green Angels, or Angeles Verdes. These are mechanics who travel on major Mexican roads to assist drivers in need of service. Or, check your Mexico insurance policy to see if you have coverage.
No matter where you plan to go, or what you plan to do, recognize that Mexican motorcycle insurance can protect you. Work with your agent to get the appropriate protection for your vehicle and personal needs. In the end, you’ll have peace of mind and be able to enjoy Labor Day with little worry.
Also Read: Dietary Planning and Safety for International Travel