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Open Roads Forum  >  RVing in Mexico and South America

 > Probably The Two Most Misunderstood Traffic Infracciones

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MEXICOWANDERER

las peñas, michoacan, mexico

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Posted: 10/31/18 02:10pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

It is illegal to ENTER an traffic signal intersection when the light is glowing yellow.

If there is SAFE room to pull over onto the shoulder the law says you must do so. SAFE does not mean pulling onto a rough section of the shoulder. If you fail to do so and fail to prove (easy to do) that a ditch or rough shoulder prevented you from moving over, stopping for a left turn means you are liable for all damages if you get rear-ended.

The above is based on reading leyes de transitos and talking with Highway Patrolmen and transitos de ciudades and municipios. These are universal laws throughout Mexico based on Jalisco laws.

The law for turning left of course applies only on rural roads minus signals. This is why Americans get puzzled when the car ahead of them suddenly pulls into an oncoming empty lane to make a left. And left turn lanes out in the sticks consist of a PAVED lane with a stop sign ON THE SHOULDER of the roadway.

I know of a half-dozen Americans who could have sworn such a setup is imaginary. They were stuck with tens of thousands of dollars in damages. Believe it that this law is enforced.

Thanks to Jefe de SSP Joaquin Baez for sitting with me for hours and explaining Mexican law. He was/is the head of the Petlatlan Guerrero SSP.

Corroboration can be had at the office of Jim Lewis. He is a smart cookie when it comes to Mexican traffic laws.

* This post was last edited 10/31/18 02:57pm by an administrator/moderator *   View edit history

NJRVer

NJ

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Posted: 10/31/18 02:39pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

So you have to pull to the right in order make left turn?

I guess there are a lot of people in NJ who are from Mexico.lol

gbopp

The Keystone State

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Posted: 10/31/18 03:19pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

NJRVer wrote:

So you have to pull to the right in order make left turn?

I guess there are a lot of people in NJ who are from Mexico.lol

Jersey isn't the only state where people make a left turn from the right lane, or drive like they're from a foreign country. [emoticon]

MEXICOWANDERER

las peñas, michoacan, mexico

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Posted: 10/31/18 03:40pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Many self-described "experienced" tourists, grumble and curse when a vehicle in front of them suddenly darts into empty oncoming lane and makes a left turn when driving out in the sticks. Where people who do not know better, argue this, is when they spout -- "it is ridiculous to believe that now I am supposed to pull off into a ditch, golf course sand trap or mountain bike grade totally ungraded area. Mexican traffic cops are not that stupid. Let's say you wish to turn left but the graded area to your shoulder looks "iffy" Turn on your RIGHT blinker. NOW if you get bashed from the rear, it is THEIR fault not yours.

This is indeed a screwy law, I hate it. But it is the law whether I like it or not. And the consequences of ignoring it are not worth the risk.

I asked a cop once "How am I supposed to stop on an amber traffic light?"

His reply: You stop when the yellow light is blinking before it goes to solid yellow. A flagrant entry before the very eyes of a watchful transito can end up with a 1,500 peso infraccion. Again there is little wisdom in this particular law and again you will find me irritated by it. The problem is the law is enforced very unevenly. My own key to not breaking this law very often is to drive almost at the speed limit which offers two things: A much better chance of not violating the law -- very irritated drivers which I must ignore.

What provoked me to write this was my stopping for a blinking amber doing 25 mph in a 25 kph zone close to home. The @#$%&! behind me who laid on his horn whipped around me into the waiting arms of a Municipio transito. Lights, and the unique squawk of Mexican police cars. Only the strongest of hunches here, but had I ran that amber light that squawk would have been for me.

The longest lived accessory on a Mexican car is the turn signal switch. Regardless all drivers know its significance and this really aids me in avoiding close calls.

How I control my temper. When another driver acts stupid I vow to do an optional courtesy to other drivers. Let someone merge in front of me, whatever. The act of suddenly whipping around me then slamming on the brakes for a turn is especially challenging. City bus drivers are infamous for doing that.

The object of these tips is to help folks have a problem free trip.

The moderator has definitely experienced this -- guaranteed.

After exiting Mex 14-D from Morelia and at the bottom of the off-ramp there is a stop sign. To get to Zihuatanejo a left turn is required. But it's not a straight left turn, not legally. You cross all lanes and make a left turn onto an on ramp and merge onto Mex 200. A Mexican highway patrolman pulled over a 5th wheel RV'er that was just ahead of me who could not read pictorial signage. I do not know the outcome of that...

Please drive safely.

theoldwizard1

SE MI

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Posted: 10/31/18 06:09pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

MEXICOWANDERER wrote:

It is illegal to ENTER an traffic signal intersection when the light is glowing yellow.

In the US, it is usually "you must clear the intersection before the light turns red".

moisheh

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Posted: 10/31/18 06:17pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Where are you finding blinking yellows. Not in Sonora. I got pulled over for going through an amber light. I lectured the Transito: Told him he stopped me as I was a tourist. But he did not stop the Mexicans that went through the red! I went on for a few minutes about Charangas with no brakes, no plate and no DL. He said I would have to go to the police station. I refused and he got in his car and left! It is impossible to be breaking the law for going through a yellow. When did it turn yellow?

Moisheh

Talleyho69

Playa la Ropa, Zihuatanejo, Mexico

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Posted: 10/31/18 06:43pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Every light we have seen in this country is the same. The green light blinks for a bit, then you get a very short yellow, then red. You are fair game if you enter the intersection when it's flashing green because you have been warned by the blinking light!

It's all part of traveling in a "foreign" country! The things we learn.....

MEXICOWANDERER

las peñas, michoacan, mexico

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Posted: 10/31/18 06:44pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Yep Moisheh. Lights are supposed to have x seconds of duration. Without the blinking the total time is supposed to include the same amount of amber shine time.

I am not defending the nutty reality only explaining it.

You were selected most probably because of the probability that you could be intimidated and secondly have money but a minimum amount of time to argue the point.

The cop lost. You played the overly argumentative gringo tourist hole card and won.

That position disappears if an accident results. Just be aware of the illegality of entering on an amber. Solution? Try to minimize the number of times you do it.

The DO NOT ENTER THE INTERSECTION ON A RED LIGHT

and

The oldwizard 1's

clearing of the intersection on a red light

Involves red lights, not amber lights. This is where tourists go wrong.

If you argue the when of entering on an amber rather than "It was not yet red" your argument will go a lot further with the cop or juez, the judge.

"I was driving just like everyone else" holds zero influence with a US traffic court judge. I have beaten many Mexican moving violations in front of a judge.

One was be cited for continuing straight when in a right turn lane stopped for a red light. A cop alongside ordered me across the intersection. I told the judge the cop caused the infraccion. The judge glowered at the cop "Case Dismissed"

Be aware of the law and spend time enjoying the country. I have the same philosophy when driving north of the border.

* This post was edited 10/31/18 06:58pm by an administrator/moderator *

Talleyho69

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Posted: 10/31/18 06:57pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Do your best not to enter an intersection when the green light is flashing. If you end up doing it, get clear as quickly as you can safely.

We consider driving in Mexico "team driving." This isn't backseat driving, but assistance from the passenger/navigator in watching for topes, and more importantly for us, watching the lights. (The driver just said the topes are at least as important.) The driver has many things to watch especially in an RV. The navigator's job is to say, "I'm on the lights" and try to time them as best they can.

It's part of the excitement, difference and yes, fun of driving in a country that definitely is not the US or Canada.

valhalla360

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Posted: 11/01/18 12:30am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

theoldwizard1 wrote:

MEXICOWANDERER wrote:

It is illegal to ENTER an traffic signal intersection when the light is glowing yellow.

In the US, it is usually "you must clear the intersection before the light turns red".


Both of you are wrong.

The legal language from the Uniform Traffic Code which the vast majority of states (and likely Mexican states) adopts is:

It is illegal to enter an intersection on yellow, UNLESS IT IS UNSAFE TO DO OTHERWISE.

So there are situations where it is legal to enter on yellow and if you happen to be in the intersection when it turns red that is not proof that you entered illegally. In fact, with updated clearance intervals, you almost always will be in the intersection for part of the time on a red.

Not all jurisdictions follow it but there has been a transition towards the ITE clearance interval calculations which solves this to a large degree:

- Yellow: Includes the perception/reaction time and the time it would take to stop if approaching at the speed limit. What this means is if you enter on yellow, you probably didn't have time to safely stop.
- Red: Includes the time to clear the intersection if you entered at the last instant of Yellow.

It's not perfect because not everyone approaches at the speed limit and the assumed deceleration rate isn't locking the brakes up but it gives the officer a fairly good justification that if you entered on Red, you probably could have stopped safely. If you enter on yellow, he likely will lose if the driver takes it to court.

Now cops out to get gringos such, are anyone's guess what you will get pulled over for.


Tammy & Mike
Ford F250 V10
2008 Copper Canyon 5er
Catalac Catamaran 34'
Full Time spliting time between boat and 5er


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