Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My All Around Bad Day!

I have not had an accident in Canada since the 1960's! The last two winters in Mexico I have damaged the roof, once on a tunnel roof and once on a low, unmarked overpass. No other vehicle has ever been involved. Today put an end to that trend.

Today we were leaving Playa Del Carmen and came to road construction. We were in the right lane and it was closed ahead so people were merging left. Everyone was cooperating and letting one vehicle in front of them and going on. It was working fine. The guy beside me went ahead in front of me and I made eye contact with the van behind him. He saw me and dropped back a bit. I had my signal on and my hand out the window, pointing into the left lane, it was my turn and he slowed and dropped back to let me in. No problem.

I slowly turned into the left lane and suddenly heard a horn, a screech of brakes and a crash! I looked in the mirror just as he hit the median and the front bumper / grill of his Toyota van came flying off while the Honda and the dolly got pushed to the right! We had collided!

One of two things happened. 1) He let the motorhome in and did not see the car. He did not realize I was towing and tried to fall into line behind the motorhome, or 2) (most likely) He let the motorhome in and then thought someone in a red Honda was trying to squeeze in front of him as well and blasted his horn and accelerated to cut him off, not realizing I was towing the Honda. I think #2 is more like it because he beeped his horn a split second before making contact. That and I understand aggressive Mexican drivers.

The police were there before I could even get out of the drivers seat. There were two Traficos and one Municipal Police and they were all very professional and courteous, one spoke English. I called the 800 number on my insurance policy and an adjuster was there with a translator in twenty minutes. Great service!

I told them what happened and they and the police did all the paperwork and then the English speaking cop asked to speak to me. He told me he understood how it happened but the bad news was that in Mexico, the vehicle changing lanes is always responsible to do it safely. It was my fault! He said he had to write me a ticket "por cambiar de direction sin tomar precausion", an unsafe lane change. He took my drivers license to the Police kiosk which was less than a block away and I followed him on foot to pay the $272 pesos fine and get my license back. Everything took about two hours and we were on our way. Damage to the Honda is a small dent that spans both drivers side doors. I will probably get it fixed before we leave Mexico. It is not a big problem and both doors open easily.

And As If That Were Not Enoughl:

Just to finish off my crappy day a pair of Traficos tried to pull a fast one on the way into Cancun. Today they picked the wrong Canadian! One of them pulled his motorcycle up to my door and gave me the classic pointing over to the side gesture. I stopped and he walked up on the right motioning for me to get out. He spoke a little English and accused me of speeding! I never speed with the motorhome and all the way along the street I was being passed on both the left and right (parking lane) sides. I was doing at least 10 or 15 KM less than everyone else. After the earlier accident I was being super cautious! They simply thought they had an easy mark for a payoff.

I told him I was not speeding and he kept saying I was doing 50 in a 40 school zone. He said he would have to confiscate my drivers license and write me a ticket and do I have a problem with that? He said I would have to go downtown tomorrow to pay the ticket and get my license back and do I have a problem with that? It was not said in so many words but he gave me many opportunities to offer to pay the "fine" on the spot. He asked me "do you have a problem with that?" at least ten times. It must be code or something.

I told him I had no problem with him writing me a ticket but I will complain to his commanding officer about it because I was not speeding and he knew it. He made a show of walking to the motorcycle to get his ticket book. He told me that is what a ticket looks like and do I have a problem with him writing it. I said no, go ahead and write it and I would come downtown tomorrow and make a complaint. After ten or fifteen minutes he said that I was a nice guy and since I was a tourist he was going to let me off with a warning.

I told the guy running the MecoLoco RV park here about it and he said it is a huge problem on Bonempak Avenue. He said, "I don't know why they do that. If it was not for people like you, they would have no job!" This is a concept little understood throughout Mexico.

He picked the wrong day for nailing me. After the accident which I do not really think was 100% my fault, I was not going to be pushed around by two Traficos looking for a bribe! They picked the wrong day! I have always said that if I do something wrong, I have no problem paying a fine and this I did today, even though I do not agree I was 100% to blame. Mordita is another story! They can look somewhere else for their spending money, hopefully in the unemployment line.

EDIT: Today we drove the same route and there is NO school zone or any 40KM speed zone. The entire route is posted either 50 or 60. I wonder how many tourists pull out their wallets for these two crooks?


  1. Hi Croft.

    I am very sorry to hear you had such a horrid day. I worry about also having an accident here in Mexico. As you wrote, drivers here are very aggressive, and scary. I am glad your fine was low (compared to USA amounts), and that you two are okay.

    Mordita ("small bite", aka bribes) is becoming less common in Mexico, but it is still a problem. Andrew and I were pulled over once last year. The local motorcycle cops were probably looking for a bribe. You can read about that on our website. Since they didn't speak English, and Andrew and I had previously agreed to pretend to not understand them (which, by the way, I didn't this time), they finally let us go without even trying to communicate that they wanted some money.

    I later read that there is a toll free number to call to report such illegal activities -- 01-800-HONESTO. Write down the officer's badge number, or better yet, use your camera or cell phone to photograph the bad cop. Sometimes the mere act of photographing a bad cop will cause him to decide to let you go. You can also call that number to pay for a traffic or parking ticket.

  2. Mexico is a genuine adventure if nothing else. Sorry amigo.

    Glad to read that you hung tough on the school zone speeding thing. That's what we all need to do - refuse to be intimidated by these thieves.

  3. Hurray for you Croft....I also refuse to pay 'tickets' for things that I did not do and have yet to pay any mordida...I just stand tough and say 'go ahead and call the tow truck' and they back down...sometimes it is a half hour's entertainment though. Kathe