Sunday, January 10, 2010

Let's Talk about the Driving

The driving atmosphere in Mexico is truly a wonder to behold. It seems crazy and unreasoned on the surface, but there is a system of sorts behind it.

On all types of roads, a driver might encounter dogs, cattle, people on bicycles, farm vehicles, scooters etc. These things to watch out for tend to be going every which direction. So here in Mexico, this is expected and accepted as the way it is..

The dogs go wherever they want, but keep half an eye on the traffic. There are many dog carcasses on the sides of the road. Other animals are mostly subdued unless you change the pitch of your engine and then they can be spooked.

Rule number one states that each person looks out for him or herself. Rule number two is avoid accidents, because the law assumes people guilty until proven innocent. Rule number three is assume people are going to do the reasonable thing, but drive as if they are going to change their mind at the last minute. Most people seem to understand each other’s driving “body language”, though it has taken me some time to learn the language.

On smaller roads slower moving vehicles are expected to move over for faster vehicles. Jay and I did not know this, because we’d been used to driving on the fast toll roads. It was a rude experience when some person forced their vehicle between us and an oncoming motorcycle. We noticed that others were driving on the shoulder and we got the message.

Passing or being passed by a tractor trailer involves becoming intimate with their wind blast. First, as the tractor trailer passes its wind pushes the bike away from the truck. Then as the wind gets sucked back, it pulls the bike towards the truck. Once the truck has passed and pulled in front of the rider, the wind coming from either side of the truck buffets the bike. It pushes the rider back and forth, and pulls the bike towards the trailer. If you can withstand the wind punches, this is a way to draft the truck. It takes quite a distance to leave the wind pattern of the truck.

The “Zen” way of approaching this is to let the truck blast push you away from it and then let it pull you back towards it. In the end, you almost end up in the same place in your lane. Each truck however has different wind patterns. Some require a motorcyclist to stay centered in their own lane and not give in to the truck’s energy.

Turn signals mean different things. It is common to use the turn signals as you’re accustomed to, which is a way of telling others your intentions to turn. Turn signals are also a way of indicating to others that it’s safe to pass. This method is only done on smaller roads. Another technique is for cars to use their hazard lights when passing. It seems to say, “Hey, driving is dangerous and letting you know that I’m going to do a dangerous maneuver is going to make it a little safer.”

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