Gringo in Guadalajara

Red Light Runners

If we are to document some of the differences in Mexican and American daily life in these pages, it will be our unfortunate task to touch upon the precariousness of Guadalajara driving.  Today the subject is red-light running, and in all fairness, we must report that in Guadalajara, it is rampant.


First, a minor societal difference.  At traffic lights in this city, one receives an extra warning during the changeover to a red light --- the flashing green.  Traffic lights in Guadalajara proceed from green to flashing green to yellow and finally to red.  Still, the extra step that the government has provided does not seem to have tamed red-light running.  Because of this tendency, it is imperative that when sitting at an intersection when a red light turns green, to look both ways to make sure there are no late runners barreling through the intersection before making your move safely.

Unfortunately, safe driving here is not always entirely safe.  As the cautious driver approaches a fading yellow, they run a risk by not running the light.  The driver behind you is likely to expect the light to be run and may well step on the gas themselves.  A late stop on a changing light can actually result in the car behind you ending up in your back seat.  Similarly, in Guadalajara, one often sees the rather comical episode in which one cautious driver stops on a changing red only to have the car following, swerve around the first driver and run the light from the next lane over.

Careful out there, boys...