This past weekend alone, Los Cabos recorded 15 traffic collisions, and unfortunately, this number doesn’t come as a surprise to locals in the destination.
Los Cabos, like many areas of Mexico, sees a high number of collisions. Ranging from fender benders to high-speed impacts, the destination has a less-than-positive image when it comes to road safety.
With that in mind, it’s only natural for travelers to ask, is it safe to rent a car in Los Cabos?
First of all, the image of driving in Mexico can be a negative one; in some areas of the country, banditry can be common on roads. Yes, real bandits, except these ones aren’t like in the movies.
Thankfully, that isn’t an issue in the state of Baja California Sur, where Los Cabos is located.
With that being said, the roads and highways here aren’t completely safe. Road safety standards are lower here than in the United States, and it shows in the number of vehicular collisions.
That doesn’t mean that driving on the roads here is ill-advised, but there are a few important tips that will increase safety and at the same time, reduce the chance of encountering issues:
Defensive driving is super important when traveling the roadways of Mexico. This means always being aware of other vehicles around you and attempting to predict their next move.
That truck in front is moving towards the center line, or the driver is staring in his mirror? Assume they are going to pull out without indicating with their blinker and be prepared to brake.
Patience and calm maneuvers are your friend on the roads in Los Cabos, you can’t always predict what other drivers will do, but you can reduce the chance others’ actions will affect your drive.
The 5 P’s
Prior preparation prevents poor performance. This can be applied to many aspects of life, and it’s no less relevant when traveling the roadways of Los Cabos.
Before embarking on any journey, double check no warning lights are on in the vehicle, check tire pressure, and ensure there is enough fuel to reach the next destination.
Also, prepare the route before beginning the journey. Google Maps and other services aren’t the most reliable in Mexico, and neither is the cell service, so download any map needed with the route already inputted.
Pre-plan the route that will be driven, and ensure it follows highways and avoids as many small back roads as possible. These smaller roads don’t always have the best driving conditions, and it isn’t uncommon for the potholes in Mexico to be so big they burst a tire.
Avoid Driving At Night
The roads in Baja California Sur become a lot more dangerous at night for multiple reasons.
Unfortunately, driving while intoxicated is a big issue across Mexico, and the majority of this occurs at night. It’s never good to share the roads with drivers who aren’t operating at 100%!
Also, while Los Cabos is one of the safest parts of Mexico regarding criminal activity, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t occur. And it is a bigger issue during the night on unpatrolled roadways. If driving at night is unavoidable, never stop to pick up hitchhikers, and never stop to give assistance to vehicles that appear to be broken down.
Respect Law Enforcement
Stories of negative encounters with law enforcement while driving here can be found all across the internet.
It’s important for travelers to adjust their behavior while dealing with law enforcement here, follow these tips and ensure that your experience will go without issue:
- Be respectful – It’s no surprise, but being disrespectful to police as a visitor to their country isn’t going to win them over.
- Don’t use bad Spanish – This may sound counterintuitive, but unless your Spanish is at a good level then communicate in English. Apart from a friendly buenas tardes señor of course, which will win brownie points!
- Don’t demand anything – Many times travelers that have a negative experience with police here have demanded their rights in America are respected in Mexico. Never forget this is a foreign country and things work differently, respect that, and travelers will be surprised how respect is naturally returned.
- Be patient – Time runs differently in Mexico, a simple traffic stop might take longer than in America, don’t attempt to rush the officer who has made the traffic stop, and accept everything will go at the pace they dictate.
If things do take a turn for the worse, or travelers are feeling threatened, then don’t hesitate to contact your embassy.
Embassy of the United States of America emergency numbers in Mexico:
Business hours: +55-8526-2561
After hours: +55-8526-2561
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