Across Latin America there are several types of speed bumps. Before describing them in greater detail it is important to understand the basic concept behind the speed bump. Their origin can be traced back to the need to reduce speed. This essential tool of Latin American traffic control supposedly serves as a back-up to regular signage which more often than not is completely ignored by drivers. Strangely enough, the amount of speed bumps in Mexico are way higher than that of any other Latin American country. Therefore, we are of the opinion that Mexican government officials (specifically those working for public works and road construction) may be taking bribes from the burgeoning vehicle suspension repair industry as well as the brake pad replacement industry. This theory could explain the omnipresence of these speed bumps, especially in Mexico.
In general speed bumps appear in groups. When you encounter one you can be sure to encounter others. The challenge comes from the fact that the first one often comes as a surprise due to bad or non-existent signage. Here are a couple of hints to avoid unwanted “speed bumps shock”:
In order to avoid being ejected from the motorcycle, slow down as soon as you see a village (speed bumps and villages go hand in hand)
When seeing vehicles in front of you suddenly hitting the brakes you can be sure that there is a speed bump nearby. Proceed with caution.In order to better understand the speed bump phenomenon, here is a list of the different varieties that you might encounter in Latin America.
1- The Regular. This is the basic form of these bone jarring bumps. They usually stretch from one end of the road to the other, perpendicular to the driver, and may vary in width. As a general rule, the wider the speed bump the greater the comfort for the driver, and passenger. The shorter ones can wreak havoc on the underneath of your vehicle so you want to exercise caution if you are riding low. The regular, as well as all sub forms mentioned below, is normally painted white and yellow, with sometimes red or blue for a more intense effect. However, it might be the case that there is not paint at all, such as when it has just been constructed.
2- The Cigar: The Cigar can best be described as a half-length-Regular except that it never stretches all the way to the exact middle of the road. As they often appear in pairs one might mistake them for a Regular but the space between them makes the passage of motorcycle tires very smooth. Like the Regular, the Cigar can vary in width and length.
3- The Vibratores : This subgroup can best be described as a series of thin Cigars very thinly spaced. What they lack in height they make up for in numbers. The effect when passing over these is a not entirely unpleasant vibration, hence the name vibratores.
4-The Balls : Actually a series of metal half balls that are spaced in such a way that you can’t quite get a motorcycle wheel between them. And to add to the fun the yellow paint with which they were once covered is more often than not faded to the point that you can barely see them. To fully appreciate them one must pass over them when it is raining.
5- The Anticipators : This type of speed bumps is similar to Cigars but are very narrow, low and spaced out. They are always several in quick succession, usually about a dozen, and the distance between each one gets shorter and shorter until you come upon the Regular. They kind of serve as a warning of the doom to come. The effect is quite interesting: boum…………… boum…………. boum……….. boum……… boum……..boum…… boum….. boum…. boum… boum.. boum. boum BOUM !
6- The Phantom : This illusion of a speed bump occurs when the driver of a vehicle sees the telltale speed bump paint on the road up ahead. But in reality there is no speed bump, just paint. The idea behind this is probably to save money on concrete (the material of choice for speed bumps). We doubt that the Phantom is very effective in the long run. Some Latin American drivers might drive like their IQ is smaller than their shoe size but this doesn’t mean they are stupid. Eventually they might catch on. Also, we think this might be a form of corruption. If no money was spent on actually making the speed bumps, where did the money go? Humm…
7- The Attempted Murder : Fortunately this is a very uncommon form of speed bumps but you only need to come across one… Obviously this type of speed bump comes without any warnings and is usually found in the middle of a hairpin turn (preferably with a mountain on one side and a sheer drop on the other).
8- The Redundant : This speed bump is usually found on particularly nasty, potholed and dusty dirt roads. They exist only to prove to the driver that no matter how bad you think that road is, it can always be made worse.