When I finally decided to get my Mexican driving license, I was already living in Mexico for a few years, but it didn’t take me that long to realize that driving in Tijuana was going to be an adventure. I knew little about the process of obtaining a driving license in Mexico, but I did not expect to receive my driving ID in just a few hours after I finished the driving test.I grew up in Romania, where many teenagers, including my brother and sister, waited so anxious to turn 18 years old so they can finally take their driving license. I thought at that time, based on their experiences and preparations, that the driving test was the most important test one can ever take in their life.
I remember very well both my sister and my brother studying the driver’s handbook for quite a few months before they were ready to take the actual written test. At the same time, they were required to take 30 hours of driving lessons with a driving instructor. They were practicing driving during the day, at night, and they learned how to park a car under different circumstances, including the challenging parallel parking. Both the written test and the road test were very stressful, all-day-kind-of-events that involved a lot of crying and disappointment. It was only after a traffic police officer made them drive through a lot of traffic, offering precise instructions, that they were notified if they passed the test or not. After passing the exams, it took about three more weeks until they received the ID license.
Well, lucky me, because in Tijuana there is no need to go through all that stress. I have been living in Tijuana for almost five years, and I have never seen a driving school car on the road. Maybe there are, but since it is not legally required to prove that you took a certain amount of driving hours perhaps that’s why I haven’t heard anyone mentioning those driving schools. So, I guess like many others TJ people, I had to find a way to learn how to drive by myself. That it’s not so difficult in Mexico since we all have a husband, brother, dad, uncle or a friend who is willing to teach us how to drive.
There I was, on a Saturday morning, decided to get my driver's license. It was around 10:00 a.m. when an officer was already checking my documents, taking my ID picture and my fingerprints. Half an hour later, I already took the written test, computerized and with the final results within seconds. Around 12:00 p.m. I was required to take the road test, and after ten minutes of driving, I was notified that I passed my driving test. I paid the tax right away, and I had to wait for about an hour until they printed my driving license. At 1:30 p.m., same day, I was a happy Romanian with a brand new driving license in Tijuana.
Now, I wonder, do Romanian drivers feel safer on the roads? Do they drive better just because the whole exam and process are taken so seriously? Are Mexicans fast learners and they don’t need too much of preparation? Do they have a better system in place that gives them the option to process a driving license within a day?