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Driving Playa Del Carmen

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Driving Playa Del Carmen

Robert Nickel
September 17, 2012

Getting around in Playa del Carmen used to be a sort of 'every man for himself' scenario. In fact, most countries around the world had their own set of road rules, and they didn't necessarily comply with neighboring nations. As a result, road accidents were numerous. In 1968 the United Nations endorsed the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, in which a set of general rules for the road were presented for use by all nations. They included the obligation by all drivers to do whatever it takes to prevent a collision, no matter who is at fault. Also, all road signs and traffic lights must be obeyed. Finally, drivers must always follow the instructions of a police officer. They are simple laws, but useful nonetheless.


Firstly, think about how you plan to get from the airport to the resort or hotel. Some resorts offer shuttle services, but sometimes they run on a set schedule and you may be left waiting for the next arrival. You may be fortunate and not have to wait at all, if you plan ahead and book an airport transfer van. The cost is minimal, and it makes for a smooth transition to your accommodation after such a long flight. Usually child car seats can be had with many services, for a nominal cost. A charter van that includes a driver, is a good choice if you are in need of group transportation. The vans are air-conditioned and can accommodate up to 12 passengers.

One of the biggest hazards in Mexico is not the sun, or even Montezuma's Revenge. According to the Playa del Carmen information website, Wikitravel, and many other travel sites, the most significant hazard in Mexico is the traffic. As one local writer wrote in the Playa del Carmen guidebook, "Do not try to apply logic to a situation, but assume that every other driver will act randomly." Mexico drivers do not use their turn signals regularly, or at all, and hardly ever pay attention to the rules of the road. Sometimes also, roads may end without warning, or are poorly maintained, or simply illogically planned. If at all possible while staying in Playa del Carmen, leave the driving to someone local, as it will be the easiest and safest way to go.

Taxicabs are plentiful in Play del Carmen. They are plentiful and reasonable if you have studied the rate sheet in advance. However, remember that as soon as the car leaves the city limits, rates can escalate quickly. Make sure to have the price of the trip all laid out before the car begins moving. This will lessen the possibility of a dispute once you arrive at your destination.

There are many vehicle rental agencies in Playa, and scooters are a popular rental. Additionally, it isn't considered odd in Mexico to see a whole family perched on a scooter, racing down the highway to their target area. Do not take that as a sign of an overall lackadaisical attitude towards the rules of the road. In fact, quite the opposite is true, and local drivers usually treat tourists on rented scooters with minimal respect. It is best to opt out of scooter rentals, and instead go for the taxicab, bus, or chartered van.

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