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Old 06-20-2008, 09:15 AM   #98
Sjoerd Bakker
Beastly Adventurer
Joined: Feb 2008
Oddometer: 1,385
Mexico STOP signs.

After repeatedly reading posts from riders who claim to have many close encounters and nearly getting run into by city traffic in Mexico I must surmise that they are doing something wrong or do not know the rules there. I never have that problem and can't remember the last time I even experienced that type of close call after I clued in on the practice many years ago.
Usually these near misses ( or hits ) happen at intersections in cities but are NOT ,in most cases, caused by a bunch of ignorant Mexicans flaunting STOP signs . True enough there are red-light runners and STOP-sign ignorers in Mexico but this, sadly ,is an epidemic which also afflicts the USA, Canada .. anywhere. The red STOP sign is seen more as a YIELD sign, to stop only if there is traffic coming or a cop watching.
The problem as I see it is traceable to tourists in Mexico not being aware of the Mexican rules which are really quite simple once you catch on to the routine.
Question : What do Mexican STOP signs look like ? If you answer:
" Red octagon with white letters saying ALTO ".... then you are only partly correct.
The red octagon ALTO sign does indeed signify that you must STOP but this is not the only sign to do so. At highway construction sites you may see the assigned traffic control person holding up the
typical octogonal red sign but it says PARE which is another word for STOP. In the less affluent areas such a
traffic control person may only have a red flag or be waving a flag or cloth of any colour, so pay attention , slow down and follow their directions .
In Mexican towns and cities there are other signs which convey the same important message.They have evolved a system of colour coding ONE WAY ARROW SIGNS and STREET NAME SIGNS.
The ONE WAY arrow signs describing the direction of travel on one-way city streets can be in three colours with white printing : BLACK - same as in US and Canada
These signs may be metal plates attached to a free standing post but they may also be fastened to or painted directly on a building wall at the corner.
Their positioning relative to your direction of aproach on the crossing street is the critical factor. If you aproach a cross street and you face the sign on that street and it is RED you are responsible to STOP and allow the cross traffic the right of way. There need be NO OCTAGON ALTO sign there , no duplicating information. Sail through such signs and your chance of collision is good or you will hear screaching brakes and Spanish cursing thrown at you. YOU were the guilty party.
If you come to such and intersection and you are facing a GREEN one-way sign it means that you are travelling on the street with the right of way and you may proceed without stopping , but do look both ways ...for Gringos .Green one-way signs are becoming rare, however.
If you come to an intersection facing the " normal" BLACK AND WHITE one-way arrow this also
means that YOU are on the street with the right of way. Look for oncoming traffic anyway and proceed .

STREET NAME SIGNS can also be colour coded in the same way .
The exact design varies slightly from city to city and depending how old the sign is.The older ones have either a red or green border above and below the name .Further , that border may have stylized points indicating the ONE -WAY or two - way direction of traffic . The newer ones may have the colour backing the full width of the sign. Again, if a street name plaque, free standing or wall mounted, is RED , and you are coming at it on the crossing street it is for you a STOP sign. If it is GREEN you may proceed without stopping.

In recent years there has been a rapid spread of marking one-ways at inner city intersections with signs saying
"UNO POR UNO" or the equivalently pronounced mathematical "1 X 1" printed on a variety of sign shapes on or in combination with the octogonal STOP or triangular CEDA ( yield) sign. They are telling drivers to give the
right of way to slow moving traffic in a regular alternating manner one by one from either direction.This should keep traffic moving. If you come to such an intersection slow down and with care drive across behind the back bumper of the last vehicle you saw crossing WITHOUT STOPPING even if there is a STOP sign.
If there is no approaching traffic you are free to carry on through WITHOUT STOPPING .
If there is a space but you do see another vehicle approaching on the other street USE YOUR JUDGEMENT , proceed if the other vehicle will not be impeded by your crossing or stop and yield.Do not stop if you have to wait for the other traffic to move a half block . Use common sense.

Learn these rules, ignore them at your peril.

Sjoerd Bakker screwed with this post 03-11-2013 at 06:31 AM Reason: Upgrade and add detail
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