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Driving in Puerto? Proceed with caution

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Driving in Puerto? Proceed with caution
A tunnel on the route of the new highway, which could bring more traffic problems to Puerto Escondido.

This was never intended to be a blog about traffic in Puerto Escondido but some misadventures on local streets have caught my attention, particularly the one in which I was a player.

I only retell it here for the benefit of drivers who are confident that they know the rules (whatever they might be) and feel safe barreling through intersections without a care in the world.

That’s what I encountered on a quiet street in Bacocho. Half-way through an intersection, a car suddenly appeared on my left, traveling far too fast to be able to stop and avoid a collision. The small compact slammed into the back of my truck, striking the left rear wheel rim and leaving the truck sitting at a 45-degree angle to the street.

It was a hell of an impact but neither of us was hurt.

There was no visible damage to my truck although I can’t imagine that it had no effect on the rear end. The car didn’t look too bad but I suspect that the damage was more severe than was evident.

The moral of the story is that intersections should always be approached with extreme caution.

The same goes for crosswalks. They look nice (until the paint quickly fades) but they are dangerous because they give uninformed pedestrians a false sense of security. A woman with a baby in her arms calmly stepped into oncoming traffic on the Coast Highway at the airport turnoff a few days ago, mistakenly thinking that a painted crosswalk should actually stop vehicle traffic.

Drivers approaching the crossing quickly braked and avoided a serious accident.

Of course, transit police could make themselves useful by monitoring traffic violations and issuing tickets. Drivers might eventually stop for pedestrians and red lights but it won’t happen in my lifetime.

Instead, they patrol the beaches and hand out fines to tourists for parking in the wrong place.

A couple visiting from Germany last week were surprised to find a parking ticket on their scooter at Bacocho after spending a few hours on the beach. They were worried by the fact that they had broken a law, but there was no information on the ticket to indicate how much the fine was or where they should go to pay it. 

Their crime was parking the scooter in an area designated for four-wheel vehicles only.

The couple were relieved when they were advised not to worry and let the rental agency deal with it.

But the story didn’t end there. They returned to Bacocho the following day and when they went back to the scooter to leave they discovered the license plate had been stolen.

Again they were advised to leave it in the hands of the rental agency. In a town where even land is subject to theft, a stolen license plate is hardly worth worrying about.

To end on a positive note, someone with authority over traffic decided to do something about the very narrow Puerto Angelito Road between Hidalgo and 3rd Poniente below the highway, making it one-way east-bound. A good move.

No doubt they’ll soon be unveiling their plans for dealing with the increased traffic created by the new highway to Oaxaca. Yes, soon — as in ahoritita!

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