Baja and the Left Turn Signal

Wed, Mar 8, 2017

There’s a rule of the road in Baja that I’ve never seen anywhere else.

Left turn signals aren’t used to indicate a  left turn. If that’s what you want, you take control of the left lane, slow and make your turn. Traffic behind you passes unimpeded on your right. Simple, no?

So what’s the left turn signal for? It’s to indicate to a trailing car that it’s ok to pass. You are taking on some liability so you better get this right.

It was early in our Baja trip and one of the drivers in our caravan didn’t get the memo. So every time a car came up behind him, on went the blinker. Never mind whether he was in a passing zone or whether he could see if it was clear ahead. If a car came up, he turned on his left turn signal.

We somehow survived a very serious situation.

I was following our RV’er when a pick-up passed me so that he was between us. Our RV’er was driving a class A motorhome and pulling a full size pick-up so he was probably 60’ in length, i.e., a pass would need a lot of clearance and a lot of time.  Class A’s are tall like a bus so I couldn’t see anything in front of him.

On went the blinker and the pick-up started to go around.

A few moments later, a third car appeared on the far left coming in our direction with his right wheels off the road.  Yes, the pick-up trusted the left turn signal and yes, there was an oncoming car.  They were three wide on a road barely capable of two cars. And no shoulder.  How they avoided a collision I do not know.

My next thought was that the third car would come back on the road, cross the centerline and nail us head-on. Definitely a code brown situation.

Here’s a typical shot of the Hwy 1 with no shoulder.  Can you imagine a Class A motorhome, a pick-up and a sedan all side-by-side?  We saw it and that visual is forever stamped in my brain.


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