Wednesday, August 23, 2017

can't stop the music -- or the drivers

My photographer friend Roxane David called my bluff the other day.

I had mentioned in a comment that our villages are somewhat bereft of traffic signs -- especially, stop signs. Where they do exist, they are generally ignored.

That is not fair. They are not ignored. They are treated with common sense -- as yield signs, when circumstances dictate.

Roxane thought I might be too generous in my count of stop signs. She asked me to document them when I was out and about. So, I did.

Almost all of them control access to the main highway through town.The most notorious set are located where the road into Barra de Navidad joins Highway 200 -- our main north-south artery in this part of Mexico.

It can be one of the most dangerous intersection in these parts -- especially, when northern visitors show up. Northerners are taught to stop at stop signs. No matter whether there is traffic within a mile of the intersection.

Not so my neighbors. Or me.

If headed north, the Barra de Navidad joins the highway at 90 degree angle. A driver approaching the intersection has plenty of time to determine whether a stop is necessary by a quick look to the left and a glance over the right shoulder.

It is the glance that can cause problems. If there is a car in front of our hypothetical car, and the driver is schooled in northern habits and stops whether or not there is traffic, and the car following is driven by a local who has determined a stop is not necessary by taking his eyes of the bumper of the first car, the accuracy of Newton's first law of motion will be demonstrated in the field.

I have seen several accidents at that corner. Each one involving a northern driver being rear-ended by a local driver. Or so their license plates would indicate.

But that sign is not my favorite. My favorite stop sign is in San Patricio on a side street that feeds into the village main street. There it is starring at the top.

What makes it my favorite is the sign's placement. It is supposed to control traffic coming from the side street. There is a good reason for it to be there. The main street is extremely busy, and the side street hosts a school. Everyone on the side street pauses at that intersection.

The problem is (if I may lift a phrase from my friend Julio) the sign is facing the wrong way round. The side street is one way. As you can see by the arrow. The stop sign faces traffic that should not enter the street. Plus, it is upside down.

But that may be the point. Custom rules when it comes to driving around here. And custom says stopping at that intersection is necessary -- just as custom dictates that a full stop at the Barra intersection is often not prudent.

That stop sign is an artistic expression of common sense. And that is just another thing I like about Mexico. 

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