Thinking-Driver-Logo
April 28, 2014

CULTURE SHOCK & AN ENCOUNTER WITH THE CURB!

Written by Spencer McDonald

akumal-beach-resortAh Mexico; sun, sand, surf and tequila. Dancing in the Drunken Duck Bar...

Oh yes, and Mexican public transportation. YIKES!

After twenty-something years of teaching from the passenger seat of everything from heavy trucks and fire apparatus to police cars and pick-up trucks, I have developed a pretty good sense of where any vehicle I’m riding in is on the road; that is, where the corners are and where the tires are contacting the pavement. So when I rode into town from our little condo on the north side of Bucerias, just north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, in a mini bus/van, it was clear to me long before the accident that we were going to hit the curb.

mexico_city_bus

HARD.

Yet, I wondered as we came barreling up the shoulder passing the traffic in an attempt to get to the bus stop 3 seconds sooner if perhaps the bus driver actually did know where the passenger side tires were and we would miss that sharp, broken, 6-inch curb-end that looked to me like the destination of our right front passenger wheel, which was right under my butt!

mx-microbus1

I got my answer when I heard the BANG as we hit the curb at around 60 km/h. We bounced about a foot or so up and landed back on the road (and not down the small embankment to the right) which was fortunate as my guess is that no-one including the driver (or me) was wearing a seat belt (yes I looked for them, no they were not accessible). If there were shocks on that wheel before the launch, they certainly weren’t going to work well after that bump!

In Canada, for every 100,000 people we see about 9.2 traffic fatalities every year. In the U.S. there are just over 12. In Mexico, there are over 20; more than twice the rate of Canada. For every 100,000 registered vehicles, we see a Canadian fatality rate of 13/year but in Mexico, the rate is almost 80!

Having said that...worldwide, Mexico is still a bit better than average.

flat20tire

Our driver stopped the van and cursed briefly (and apparently skillfully) in Spanish while pounding the steering wheel then limped the van to the bus stop which was our original destination. He got out without a word of explanation and began to change the wheel. The one coming off had a ‘V’ shaped bend about 5-inches deep from the curb edge and was completely ruined. The tire had come off completely by then and was lying back on the highway while everyone else on the highway just drove around, past or over it.

The rest of us piled off the bus and waited about 90 seconds for the next one, got on like there was nothing wrong and we were on our way again. “That was interesting”, I said to a fellow traveller who looked like he had been in Bucerias for a while (like…since 1978). He shrugged and said, “TMO; Typical Mexican Operation”.

I love Mexico. I love the people, the culture, the food, the pace of life and while there is much in the press about the violence generated in the drug trade, I never saw any evidence of that, nor did I worry too much about getting caught in the cross fire. What I did worry about was getting from one place to another on the highway!

un-pesero

This incident in the mini bus got me thinking though; thinking about how many people really don’t know the dimensions of their vehicle, like where the tires are on the roadway or where the corners of the bumpers are. When I trained police, one of the exercises was accuracy in tire placement. We required the candidate to accurately drive over a moderately sized marker to prove that she knew where the tires actually were on the road. This type of practise if you have never done it will help you get better sense of your vehicle size and ‘footprint’. You can do it in your driveway at home with anything small enough to drive over yet high enough to feel, like a small stone. Try it some time. It will help with parking and slow speed manoeuvres and give you a greater sense of control.

And it may also prepare you to see it coming if you have a similar experience as me in a foreign land!

Written by: Spencer McDonald, President, Thinking Driver

(Reprinted as previously published in Canadian Occupational Safety Magazine)

Spencer McDonald

President and founder of Thinking Driver,  Spencer McDonald, has over 25 years of experience in designing driver safety training curriculums and instructor development. He has driver safety qualifications in all vehicle types and expertise in psychology, education, training and motivation that uniquely qualifies him to develop the attitude-based Thinking Driver programs. 

Would it kill you to train your drivers?

It could kill them if you don't

Vehicle Incidents are the most probable way that your employee will get hurt on the job. Protect your investment today with driver training.

ELEARNING COURSES

Bottom-Tailgate-Topics-and-Tips
 
right-arrow-50px 

Fleet Driver Safety Training Online Courses for Companies and Enterprises.

Driver Training

Fleet Driver Training Programs
 
up-arrow-50px

Fleet Safety Driving Programs. Packages and Individual Courses. Online and in-person.

SAFE DRIVING PRODUCTS, DVDs & MORE

Fleet Safety Online Store
 
up-arrow-50px

Defensive Driving & Fleet Safety Products, DVDs, Books, & More. Get Your Safe Driving Materials Here.

Safety Professional Resource Centre

Bottom-Safety-Professional-Resource-Centre
 
left-arrow-50px

Join the Thinking Driver community, help us create better drivers, and learn the knowledge and skills, including years of developmental training.

Thinking-Driver-Logo

The Thinking Driver Program was created by Spencer McDonald, driver psychology and counseling specialist to improve driver attitudes and reduce aggressive driving and fleet incident rates.

About Us

free driver training course online

TD 540x237 Color

Inquire Here

Ask us a question using the form below.

Name
Please let us know your name.

Email
Please let us know your email address.

Phone
Please write a subject for your message.

Message
Please let us know your message.

Invalid Input