Out for a hike in Colombia, South America. Photo taken November 25, 2015.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Osgoode, Ontario, Canada. Just south of Ottawa.

And where are they going next? We leave November 1st for a six week trip to Romania and Moldova.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Pronounced "tow-pay". Or several, as in topes "tow-pays". This is the Mexican version of a speed bump, and they are everywhere in Mexico. And, they are very effective.

Many of the smaller towns in Mexico don't have stop signs or red lights. But guaranteed they have topes! Usually the smaller towns have one at the entrance to the town, and another as you leave the town.

There are many different types of topes. But, they are the number one road hazard in Mexico! Some topes have signs warning that there is a tope ahead. Some topes are painted white or yellow. Some are not, and some have the paint worn off. Sometimes, there is a sign warning of a tope, but then there is no tope! Of course this makes you slow down anyhow.

Once, we hit a tope without seeing it first. Sometimes, if the tope is in the shade, it is very difficult to know it's there. We are ALWAYS on tope watch when we are driving in Mexico. If Ruth sees a tope, she will warn me about it even if she knows I have seen it. All she needs to do is to say "tope" and I know to slow down because there have been times where I haven't seen one, and there's been times where I've seen one and she hasn't. Four eyes are better than two when it comes to topes!

Many topes in a row!

Once, a couple of years ago, we hit a large tope without slowing down. Unbelievable, but neither one of us saw it! The front end went over it hard, but without incident. But I'm sure the back end of Sherman left the ground! Our bedroom TV came crashing down, and all the clothes in Ruths closet broke away from the hangar brackets. We were so surprised there wasn't more damage.

Topes do a better job of slowing people down than stop signs, yield signs, speed limits, or red lights. You really have no choice but to slow down. Like I said, they are VERY effective.


  1. For sure a very effective way to control speed, you definitely need to pay attention to the road and you will slow down or suffer the consequences. We have hit a couple ourselves that we did not see, luckily no damage.

  2. Very interesting but I can't tell from the pictures what a tope consists of. It doesn't look raised. Is it a depression in the roadway?

  3. what is the purpose of them being so close together?

  4. That seems to be a little bit of overkill to me. Why so many in a row? The designers must do consulting work for some campgrounds in the USA:(

  5. In the Caribbean they're known as 'silent policemen'!

    We have them here in Canada but they are usually on private property although some are springing up in the suburbs to stop people from speeding where there are lots of kids.

  6. Here in Vienna on the back streets which are posted 30 kph, they'll raise the entire intersection, so you'd BETTER slow down, or you'll be airborne.
    They do this instead of stop or yield signs as well. I find stop signs are retarded, and we have WAY too many of them in our city in Canada (Burlington). I'm sure the snow removal argument could be made for why they don't so something similar, although I don't agree. Stop signs are not only ineffective, but are a waste of fuel and generate brake dust.

  7. How very interesting, and damaging, if your mind wanders for a moment.

  8. wow one of those pics is totally over kill..we have speed bumps as we call them here in Canada but only in private areas, like RV parks and small communities..not on the public roads..seems that many so close together that it wouldn't matter how slow you went..you'd still rock and roll...pretty hard on the springs for sure...

  9. Oh heavens...those things would drive me crazy! Why so many and so close together? I will take the stop lights any day.

  10. There are a lot of them in northern Canada and Alaska, only they call them "frost heaves". Different name....same damage.

  11. We got them in Edmonton, they are called pot holes. They usually don't show up till spring, but they are effective in either killing your front end or making you slow down. Sometimes you can even get stuck in one!

    Topes are cute compared to them!

  12. Kind of reminds me of I-40 in Oklahoma!

  13. very interesting concept to slow down the drivers..here they have traffic circles!!..stupid things!

  14. They are mean little guys, and we have hit a couple over the years.
    Wakes you up!

  15. We were just with our friends Terry and Lu and they were talking about the roads in Mexico and how the roads and drivers are crazy now I can see what they were talking about.

  16. George and Suzie...Yes, you definitely need to pay attention. As Kevin said driving is really a two person job.

    Donna K...The header picture was of just caution lines leading up to the tope but in all the other pictures they are raised bumps made of concrete. They do have variations, sometimes they put down huge thick ropes, sometimes raised metal half moons (we think these are sometimes the worst). They make them all different sizes.

    Donna W...No idea, I guess to make you really, really slow down. There doesn't seem to be rhyme or reason for how they place them.

    Chuck and Anneke...Yep, we think it is overkill in some places too. Don't forget to add some of the malls to that campground list.

    Sandra...I've heard that name before too. They were in Ottawa too on certain roads, they called it traffic calming!

    Bob...Yeah, that would do it! We agree that there are way to many STOP signs. Here in the towns when you come to an intersection you know to slow down and look just commonsense. These topes can also be a waste of fuel but they are effective.

    Judy and Emma...You just don't let your mind wander.

    Elaine...Some are certainly overkill but most of the time it's not too bad as you come to a little town or village you can expect to have at least one. I think the reason we don't have them on the main roads in Canada is because of emergency vehicles and snowplows. Definitely hard on a motorhome.

    FULL-TIMERS...Yes, they do drive us crazy at times but I think sometimes we would rather have them than the lights. It's when you have so many together that it's a real pain.

    Paul and Helen...Yep, and "frost heaves aren't marked, at least here you are warned "most" of the time.

    WBY...Yep, Nova Scotia has lots of them too and they were continuous. I think I would rather have the topes.

    Paul and Marti...It reminds us of a few roads in very bad shape.

    Sue and Doug...It sure works. They have traffic circles here too and in England they have lots of them. I think once you get used to the traffic circles they work really well.

    Chris...Yep, silent and effective!

    Janie and John...The first couple of days driving in Mexico can definitely be a challenge but if you just take it easy there really isn't a problem. Most drivers are pretty good with us. You soon to learn to drive like them, hehe!

    Kevin and Ruth

  17. Thanks for this topes post - I keep talking to Derek about them so that he is prepared - this way I could read your post to him. In 1994 my boyfriend and I hit one really really hard! it only takes one to forever remember to look out for them!

  18. there are exactly 157 between Puerto Vallarta and Zihuatanejo.

  19. Teresa...He'll soon learn why you have to be aware of the topes. You only need to hit one or almost hit one to remember to keep yours eyes open for them.

    Chrissy y Keith...We will keep that in mind. We have been from Zihuatanejo to the Colima turnoff and in the next month or so we will be going from just north of Puerto Vallarta to the Colima turnoff so we will keep our eyes open. That is a lot of topes!

    Kevin and Ruth

  20. Quite interesting. I heard that private citizens also sometimes put topes in front of their house.

  21. The Topes are very dangerous, they could cause a tire blow out or suspension failure leading to a crash. The private Topes that are not properly marked and cause damage to vehicles should be made to pay for any damage they cause. Driving is dangerous enough without them.

  22. Mr. Anonymous:

    Topes are all over Mexico, and they are part of driving here.

    Essentially, if you don't like topes, you better not drive in Mexico!


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