Driving in Baja

1 Oct

There is a very good article in the most recent edition of the AAA magazine “Westways” (October 2007) about tips for driving in Baja as well as several web sites that can be accessed for more detailed information. We consider the suggestions given there to be accurate and consistent with what we have communicated personally to friends and family who have travelled into Baja.

* Obey all posted speed limits and traffic-control signs, as well as local traffic laws.
* If you are stopped by a police officer for a traffic violation in Tijuana, Ensenada, or Rosarito, politely insist on a written citation that you can pay either at the police station or by mail. For the cities of San Felipe, Tecate, or Mexicali, traffic fines must be paid at the police station.
* If you are stopped for no reason, you might be able to avoid problems by asking to be taken to the nearest municipal judge.
* Before you leave for Mexico, know how to reach people in the U.S. who might be able to help you if a problem occurs. The city government of Tijuana’s website, http://www.sindicatura.gob.mx, offers a guide for tourists with several phone numbers that may come in handy. Also, go to discoverbajacalifornia.com and click on “Safety Tips.”
* Report any incident to the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana. You may also access an online complaint form at http://www.sindicatura.gob.mx
* Visitors to Mexico are strongly urged to purchase auto insurance (even for rental cars.) Most U.S. insurance companies don’t provide coverage for driving in Mexico. Mexican auto insurance is available at Auto Club offices or at AAA.com.
* It is a traffic violation to use a cellular phone while driving in the state of Baja California.
* Motor vehicle insurance is invalidated in Mexico if the driver is found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
* If you are involved in an accident, you will be taken into police custody until it can be determined who is liable and if you have the ability to pay any penalty.

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