To get to southern Mexico from the US you obviously have to drive through the North (or fly). The British Foreign Office advisory makes it sound like the northern regions are a lot more dangerous than the southern ones.

I would like to know what steps we should take as travellers and drivers to avoid having any hassle whilst getting through the northern states.

  • 2
    Northern Mexico is kinda big. I have a friend who lived in Mexico for 5 years working for a K & R insurance company, when I asked her if it was safe, the answer was a resounding no. After further discussion she said, crossing the border in Texas is madness, you're better off with New Mexico and better still with California. Once i got her talking she suggested taking a train from Tijuana to Mexico city through the copper canyon she said the rest of northern Mexico is boring and dangerous.
    – Stuart
    Commented Dec 25, 2011 at 23:45

3 Answers 3


A nephew of mine witnessed a shooting at a gas station in Northern Mexico when driving from Mexico City to Texas, but then again that can happen anywhere. I saw a shooting last time I was in L.A.

When I was in Mexico in 2008/2009 the northern states felt just as safe as the rest of the country. I did not drive but used public transport and walked a lot.

I think most violence happens between rival Mexican gangs and usually not around tourist sites.

I would avoid the border towns or at least get through them as quickly as possible.

I heard many horror stories about Mexico before I went there and it felt perfectly safe to me for the three months I spent in the country.

I met several Americans further south that came from the US in their car or on their motorbike and none of them had any problems.


One of the best sources for information on how safe a region is for US travellers is the US State Department Web Site. Here is the page for Mexico with up to date information.

An excerpt from the site makes me think the answer is, don't risk it.

Gun battles between rival TCOs or with Mexican authorities have taken place in towns and cities in many parts of Mexico, especially in the border region. Gun battles have occurred in broad daylight on streets and in other public venues, such as restaurants and clubs. During some of these incidents, U.S. citizens have been trapped and temporarily prevented from leaving the area. TCOs use stolen cars and trucks to create roadblocks on major thoroughfares, preventing the military and police from responding to criminal activity. The location and timing of future armed engagements is unpredictable. We recommend that you defer travel to the areas indicated in this Travel Warning and to exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the northern border region.

The rising number of kidnappings and disappearances throughout Mexico is of particular concern. Both local and expatriate communities have been victimized. In addition, local police have been implicated in some of these incidents. We strongly advise you to lower your profile and avoid displaying any evidence of wealth that might draw attention.

Carjacking and highway robbery are serious problems in many parts of the border region and U.S. citizens have been murdered in such incidents. Most victims who complied with carjackers at these checkpoints have reported that they were not physically harmed. Incidents have occurred during the day and at night, and carjackers have used a variety of techniques, including bumping/moving vehicles to force them to stop and running vehicles off the road at high speeds. There are some indications that criminals have particularly targeted newer and larger vehicles, especially dark-colored SUVs. However, victims driving a variety of vehicles, from late model SUVs to old sedans have also been targeted. While violent incidents have occurred at all hours of the day and night on both modern toll ("cuotas") highways and on secondary roads, they have occurred most frequently at night and on isolated roads. To reduce risk, we strongly urge you to travel between cities throughout Mexico only during daylight hours, to avoid isolated roads, and to use toll roads whenever possible. The Mexican government has deployed federal police and military personnel throughout the country as part of its efforts to combat the TCOs. U.S. citizens traveling on Mexican roads and highways may encounter government checkpoints, which are often staffed by military personnel or law enforcement personnel. TCOs have erected their own unauthorized checkpoints, and killed or abducted motorists who have failed to stop at them. You should cooperate at all checkpoints.

I have a close friend whose mother lives near Monterrey and for years he drove down to visit her. He wouldn't even DREAM of doing it now, and he flies instead. It is extremely dangerous in the north, especially near the Texas border.


its more dangerous due to the cartels/kidnapping/immigrants heading to the us and once again the route thats taken place in the north to transport drugs into the us from the cartels, its horrifying that this is taken place down below us

  • Nothing valuable brings your answer, just bogeyman stories for travelers.
    – Suncatcher
    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 13:29

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