Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Beef of the Day

This blog is not usually a "beef blog", I don't like to complain, but yesterday I got a bee in my bonnet and can't let it go so I guess I have to write about it to set it free.

Dear drivers of Cancun,
If you hear a siren or see the flashing red lights of an ambulance or fire truck, PULL OVER. Do not drive faster, do not continue as if nothing is happening, do not stop in the middle of the freaking road, PULL OVER. It could be your mother dying in that ambulance, get out of the freaking way.

If you are going to make a turn, please use your signal. If you are not turning, please turn the bloody thing off. If you want to make a left turn, GET IN THE LEFT LANE AND STOP CUTTING ME OFF FROM THE RIGHT. Bus and taxi drivers, this means you too, you are the worst offenders, three times yesterday a big stupid bus almost hit me from the right lane and then proceeded to scream and honk at me. Stop it!

If you need to run into a store or a business, find a parking spot. Do not just stop your car in the middle of the street and put on your hazard lights. Parking is free in Cancun (unlike the $20 an hour in Toronto), take the extra minute and find a spot. Myself and fifty other cars sat still on Nader yesterday because of you stupid water truck, no one could get by you and there was a perfectly good parking lot only a few meters ahead of where you stopped in the middle of the street.

And the biggest, the worst, the most horrifying beef, parents, THINK think think about the safety of your children. I see you driving with your children climbing around inside the car or with your baby on your lap or an unbelted child with their face pressed up against the front windshield or all 17 of your kids thrown in the back of an open pick up truck or your family of 5 on a moped. WHAT ARE YOU THINKING????? Ok sure, I see some of you actually went to the trouble of buying a car seat, but why the heck is it in the front seat facing forward and not strapped in? Kids act as projectiles in an accident, strap'em in and keep'em safe. The lack of safety measures for kids on the roads astounds me, this is the year 2008 right? You do understand the dangers of your practices right? Or has your head been in the sand for the last 25 years? This is a no brainer, get a car seat, put it in the back, install it properly and keep your kids there until they are big enough to use a real seat belt. Even then, kids MUST stay in the back seat AND belted in, do you really want to see them flying through the windshield or having their necks broken by the air bag? Especially if you consider my first few paragraphs, it's not like you are driving safely to begin with.

With all due respect, get your driving act together!


(breathing in......breathing out.....)

Ok, back to our regularly scheduled Happy Place, sorry for the rant.....

Please note: Nowhere did I say "Mexicans are blank" or "Mexicans don't blah blah blah" , bad driving is universal, these are only observations of my particular experiences driving in Cancun, not a condemnation of a nation or its people. I just want to be clear, I was raised to never make generalizations and I am not going to start now, for me to say "Mexicans are" I would have to have met all 100 million of them. So no getting on my case please, these are just complaints about Cancun drivers, not about a race of people! I know there are many Mexican drivers who feel the same as I do and kudos to those who are careful and respect the laws and tend to their children's safety.


Anonymous said...

AMEN to all that you have said!! You need several eyes driving in Cancun.
KW from Michigan

ArtCee said...

Your first 3 paragraphs soooo apply to San Francisco, CA and Los Angeles too, come to think of it!

I think 60% of drivers don't know what a turn signal is!!

Cee in SF

Croft said...

There are many things that are an adventure in Mexico and Left Turns are one of them. Here is my Blog entry on Turning Left:

Making a left hand turn is a little different here in Mexico. Sometimes it is the same as we are used to, where you simply move to the left hand lane, signal and turn. Other times left turns are made from the extreme right hand lane! In these cases there is (usually) an advance left turn light.

In other cases a left turn is made from the second most left hand lane. Here the extreme left lane is reserved for U-Turns ("Returno's") only. Sometimes if you are making a simple left turn from the left lane you get blasted by the person who is attempting to make a U-Turn from the second most left hand lane and is convinced that he has the right of way.

All these rules seem to be clearly logical and understood by locals. For us in our fifty foot long combination of motorhome and tow car it is impossible to know with any degree of certainty which lane we should be in in preparation for an upcoming left turn so for this reason we usually stay in one of the center lanes. When we get close enough to the intersection to see the particular method used it is important to remember to not use the turn signals to warn the people behind what you are going to do. This is because the instant they see your turn signal come on they accelerate to close the gap you were going to turn into. You simply have to change lanes without signaling and hope you do not get a ticket for doing so.

Driving in Mexico keeps you on your toes, especially when you consider that the posted speed limit is treated simply as a "suggestion" or "guideline" and is rarely followed, even by the police.

Theresa in Mèrida said...

The problem with most drivers in Mexico is a lack of driver education. When the driving portion of the exam consists of parallel parking and that is it, as long as renewing your license consists of paying the fee before your license expires, there will be no improvement of driver skills here.
A serious effort would have to be made to improve the general awareness of the average driver. I have seen some good drivers here, but most seem unaware and unskilled.
I also think that the availability of credit has increased the amount of cars on the road,but since driver's education is not part of the required curriculum in high school like it was when I went to school, most people learn from a family member or friend, who probably are untrained drivers themselves.
It's an awareness thing.

Anonymous said...

Seeing as, at least in Quintana Roo, you can "tip" to get your license, it's not surprising that everyone drives like they have no clue what's going on.

Yes, I have adapted and now do I things like stop in the shade instead of at the light. Take that Mexico Way! LOL I also use the magic hand I call it- you just put your hand out the window and wave to the direction you want to go and you can cross 4 lanes of traffic and do a U turn- genius just plain genius!!

I dunno what up with the safety issues, though... incredible and not just for driving issues!

Anonymous said...

I have seen and been frustrated by some of the same types of driving down here in Chetumal, but I have a different general take on drivers in Mexico. I think drivers down here are creative and skillful.

I really like the creative lane assignments; they let me pass a triciclo on the right and a dump truck on the left at the same time on a single lane road. My little ATOS is just the right size for this. We also creatively decide when we are going to stop at a stop sign and how fast we are going to drive because the speed limit signs don't seem to mean a thing.

We are also skillful drivers. I attribute this to the fact that not every teenager gets to drive and each family decides who is the best driver for the one car. Also, no 80 year olds driving down here; the younger family members take good care of their elders and restrict their independence so they don't hurt themselves.


3LittleFlowers said...

I remembered when Cara came from Australia and drove our car here in Santo Domingo... Poor girl was terrified... Everything that you said applies here, and it is worst in small towns... In Higuey, if you stop in a red light, the car from the back of you will actually honk and scream at you!!!

I know A LOT, but A LOT of people that dont drive in this country, because they are SCARED to drive here... Sadly, Im being general, because there is a HUGE percentage of people who drives like that...

There are people with seats, but if you have a kid who is older than 3, and still has a seat, people will look at you like a weirdo... Most people use seats and seats and seats, year after year after year, and wont even look at expiration date or even worse until how many pounds it holds...

I could go on and on with this subject!!!!

Heather said...

Can you send this to brasil also. When i saw the mom on the back of a motor bike with one infant twin on each knee, I lost it!

Fned said...

I know, I know... we drive quite recklessly in Mexico. As you say, not all do, but I have met my share of really scary drivers (I mean scary when you're in the car with them!)

Still, the french are no angels themselves... driving here takes a of guts and although safety measures (specially concerning kids) are quite tight and closely followed, that doesn't mean they drive safer.

I think the common denominator is that in America (and Canada?) people drive in a "friendly" way (except in LA I hear) while everywhere else they drive in a "defensive -get out of my way" way.

That's why I prefer to walk. =)


CancunCanuck said...

KW- I practically learned how to drive in Detroit, so it's not that much different, lol! We call the "returnos" here "Michigan lefts", where you have to pass the street you want and make a funky turn to get that left movement you want, just like daddy taught me in the motor city!

Cee- I think they apply to a lot of cities (Detroit and Montreal come to mind), it just seems like here it's a much bigger problem, grrrrrrr. My favourite is when someone signals to turn right but actually turns left, how hard is it to get that straight? :)

Croft- Great post, teehee. Almost sounds like your town is more "organized" than Cancun. I would kill for some actual lanes here, nothing is marked, no dividers, no lines on the road and often arrows pointing towards you on the road which leads you to panic thinking you are going the wrong way. I certainly wouldn't want to drive a motor home through the city on a regular basis, it would drive you around the bend!

Theresa- It is amazing how little is required to get a license here, many folks I know didn't even take a road test, never mind a driver's education class. I don't think most people fully understand that even at low speeds, an accident can be quite dangerous. And I agree, awareness is certainly lacking.

LisaLovely- You always make me giggle girl, "magic hand" indeed! Max cracks me up when we're driving, he'll tell me "Say beep beep mommy, stupid drivers!" when he sees my brow crinkle at a particularly idiotic manoeuvre. Of course, Daddy is a horn honker extraordinaire, I prefer to save it for the real jackasses on the road, otherwise I'd just be laying on it permanently.

Kathe- Creative definitely, perhaps skillful in their creativity, but I think overall it's a bit reckless. I think having the smaller car is certainly an advantage, you can play the game with the taxis and the motos a lot better than in an SUV. :)

Momto3- LOL, yes, I guess coming from Australia she would have been quite surprised by the driving. Before we got the car, I was terrified by the notion of driving here, the first month saw a lot of sweaty palms from me. I've adjusted now, not so much scared as annoyed. And the car seats? At this point, I can't be upset by the expiry date etc., something is better than nothing, KWIM?

Heather- Oh amiga, goddess of car seats, you would cry if you saw some of the things I've seen. Teeeny tiny babies up front of the moto, daddy holding them, the toddler behind daddy, mommy behind the toddler and the big kid hanging on to mommy's back. And of course they are carrying 50 pounds of groceries and a cooler too. One or two of them might have helmets, though they are often "toy" construction helmets and not motorcycle helmets at all.

Fned- Oh, I have heard about the French drivers, horrible! Much like Montreal, haha. It's strange, I had far more road rage driving in Toronto than here, I had no patience! Here I have all the patience in the world, I have to or I would really make myself nutso! I love walking and still do a lot of it, though not in August in Cancun, oy vay, it's too hot to walk more than a block!

3LittleFlowers said...

I know something is something, but I mean that sometimes they have a seat that have been used for so long, that I dont even think it will actually work in an accident.. KWIM?? I have seen people that put their newborns in the seat that their first child used 10 years ago, and you could see how damage the seat is...

Both of my girls dont have an expensive seat, and I will love to be able to afford a better seat for each one of them, but the one the each one of them have is at least in very good condition...

And LOL at the comment to Heather... She will die if she goes to Higuey too!!! Dont even want to go into details!!!

Anonymous said...

Drivers in Mexico are nuts - this is well-established. Drivers in Venezuela are worse. And probably somewhere else...

Every day I see what I call the 'two-second' rule - if a Mexican driver has two seconds before fatal impact, he (or she, across three lanes of traffic, making a u-turn on a red light while talking on a cell phone) will make the left turn in front of the combi with 15 passengers.

But the laden combi will do the same thing in front of a pipa.

In fact, we almost never drive anywhere without saying 'oh my god!' or 'did you see that?' Some days I wonder that anyone gets out of a car alive here.

What about the pedestrians who walk into traffic looking straight ahead? I think Mexican children must be taught 'Look NO ways before crossing.'

This is the culture you have chosen (I presume; just came across your blog, and I'll be back) to live in.

Righteous anger or outrage, as I'm sure you observed, is at best a source of amusement to bystanders in Mexico.

A few things about driving in Mexico make so much more sense in Mexico - topes, for example. Want to drive fast in a residential area? Instead of harassment by some black-suited, jackbooted thug with mirror glasses giving you a $200 ticket, you make a direct and personal contribution to the local economy - by way of the auto repair shop that will attempt to put your car's suspension back together.

I personally prefer that to the paranoid police/surveillance state NOB.

Heather said...

I think I have seen more than my fair share of kids not in car seats with my experiences in Kenya and Brasil. I need not see any more than that. While I know I will, I just have to close my eyes and say a prayer for a safe arrival, lol! Just the thought makes me cringe.

CancunCanuck said...

PatzGringo- Hello and welcome, thanks for jumping in. I think you are the first "voice" from Venezuela I've seen here, nice to hear from you. Yes, this is the place I have chosen to live, it will be five years here in October. The first four years here were without a car, so the driving part of the culture is still relatively new to me. Righteous anger and outrage are really not a part of my personality, I am cool as a cuke, but you are right, when I have witnessed it from someone else, I'm rather embarrassed for them. It doesn't get anyone any further ahead nor does it solve any problems. I witnessed a car accident not thirty minutes ago and I must say I was surprised to see how calm everyone was, usually there is some party throwing a tantrum on the street to the amusement of onlookers. Today it was just business as usual, you hit me, we'll work it out, let's get out of the intersection. We've been lucky (so far, knocking on wood) that we haven't had to contribute to the mechanic's shop yet, just the tire fixit guy.

Heather- I have to not make myself crazy over it, it's such a common sight that worrying about it too much would give me an ulcer!

Anonymous said...

In some ways I think it's great that Mexico stays out of the way. If you want to put your kid on your scooter with just a hard hat as a helmet, go ahead. The only thing that really bothers me about that equation is that the kid isn't making that decision for themselves. It's one thing to not care about your own life, it's another to put another person's life at risk without their knowledge.

I struggle with where the line should be drawn between freedom and government enforced rules. I think the US has gone overboard with rules, but maybe there aren't enough (or they aren't being enforced) here in Mexico.

My Way said...

Girl...don't apologize for complaining on YOUR blog. Shit...have you looked at mine? lol.

Kathy said...

I've not only seen Lisa's "Magic Hand" but I have used it myself. Whenever I'm in a tricky spot, and stopped (or slowly moving), I just get the attention of the driver and wave my magic hand, he nods his head and I go. It is amazingly simple! You can leave your blinker on FOREVER and no-one will care, but the magic hand wave will trump all. I ALWAYS defer to the magic hand wave when I am presented with it.

Islagringo said...

Isn't it a pity that you had to add that little disclaimer to your post. Anybody who knows you knows that you would never lump all Mexicans together.

When I got my licenses, both car and moto, on the island, all I had to do was pay my money and have an awful picture taken. Done. No test, nothing.

The current car I have here NOB is set up so that I can't even put it into gear unless I have my seatbelt on. Safety to the extreme.

CancunCanuck said...

Mexpat- I rarely see any kind of traffic law being enforced here, I wasn't even sure they existed! I do believe that there must be some way to enforce parents to at least be safe for their children, the kids don't have a voice but they sure deserve better than to fly through a windshield or get crushed on a moto.

Mexico Way- LOL! Just trying to keep up the old Canadian stereotype of being apologetic. "Hi, I'm Canadian, I'm sorry!" Your blog rocks, obviously your Italian roots took over, LMAO!

harvestmoon- I will have to discover my own magic hand. I think right now I have just discovered the "paths of least resistance". I will go out of my way to avoid a glorieta or left turns, three rights make a left, si? :)

islagringo- Aww, thanks hon. I put the disclaimer cause, well, you know why. I just know that I have no experience driving outside of QRoo so needed to be clear that I would not state anything about "Mexicans", only about the drivers here in Cancun. You know, covering my ass and all. I've been told that to get my QRoo license all I need is my Canadian license and money. Too easy!

D is for Dengue, Depression and Dread

I'm currently sitting in my Cancun apartment, staving off the Covid 19 panic and using all my Jungle Kelly powers to maintain my cal...