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Dispatches From Mexico City: A License To Drive

Author: Channel E2E blogger and resident musician Ty Trumbull

I’m going to get a Mexican driver’s license. Apparently now, though, I’m facing a deadline.

For the longest time, there has been no test to get a license. Driver’s just need to present a piece of government ID, a utility bill, and the equivalent of US$40 and they’re legally allowed to drive.

In one of the most populous cities in the world, where thousands of collisions are reported and three people are killed in traffic-related accidents every day, this presents a problem. But according to many news reports, the government is beginning to change the requirements to get a license. Beginning this year, new drivers will need to take classes operated by internationally accredited schools before applying for a license.

I learned to drive on the country roads a few hours outside of Toronto and so coming to Mexico City was a big shock. The drivers here are more aggressive, disregard traffic lights, and have a general disregard for pedestrians and cyclists. The congestion is one of the hardest things to get used to here. INRIX, an organization that ranks cities based on their traffic issues, lists Mexico as the 21st worst city to drive in. (Interestingly, there are seven U.S. cities ahead of it on the list.)

I’ve frequently described the traffic in this city as a sort of ecosystem. Things just seem to work. Anecdotally speaking, with as much traffic as there actually is, the number of accidents seems relatively low. Still, the government has been making strides to lessen congestion and accidents recently. In the two-and-a-half years I’ve lived here, bike lanes have popped up all around the city, a popular bike share program has been implemented, and there’s been a push to improve the experience for transit riders.

But any improvement to the traffic laws will be welcome. Coming from a country with a graduated licensing system, I was shocked that people here don’t even need to take a test. Still, I’ve been through all that. Now I’m just hoping to get my license before the deadline.


Ty Trumbull, from his base in Mexico City, covers the entrepreneur’s journey and business continuity for ChannelE2E. Each Tuesday or so, he offers views about his adopted hometown — his personal Dispatches from Mexico City. Oh, but sometimes he pops up in his home nation of Canada.

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