Coming back to the hotel last night, we passed by a major traffic accident: a head-on collision involving several small cars. One was flipped over and crushed, and at least one other was completely destroyed. All in all, we counted six involved cars.
I’ve found that there are exactly three rules of the road to driving in Crete:
1) Ignore the speed limit
2) Ignore the double center line and pass at will
3) Drive off the side off the road, to allow faster (much faster) traffic to pass. Everyone straddles the right-side line or drives on the shoulder to let others pass.
Undoubtedly, the accident we came upon was caused by any combination of these three rules.
I’m reminded of a recent article saying that the deaths of most tourists were caused by traffic accidents, not heart attacks, shark bites, sucking leeches, crime, or malaria. In fact, the WHO estimates that over 1.2 million tourists are killed in traffic accidents every year, with 20-50 million injured.
You know how they say that the majority of car accidents happen within two miles of home?
How does one define a “bad driver”? In a good portion of the civilized world, we tend to think of it as someone who drives fast, passes without seeing what’s ahead, doesn’t stop for pedestrians, honks impatiently … and frequently breaks the law.
This definition does not apply in other places. Take Eastern Europe: Bad driver is typically seen as someone without the skills to drive a bad car 100mph on icy roads, someone who frequently slows down traffic by driving the speed limit or someone who doesn’t take off within exactly one second of the light changing. This school of thought automatically makes every person above 55 and 95 percent of women bad drivers. Really, the only “good drivers” would be single, childless men between 18 and 30. And, according to some, good drivers would definitely not be Australians.
Some say that the people of Rome are the world’s worst; others think Buenos Aires is crazier. Several sites are dedicated to the awful drivers of the Arabian Gulf (aka Persian Gulf). A few Mexico Cities, LAs, Rios. And finally, one study shows that Russians are the worst in Europe, with 25 percent admitting to having sex while driving.
I cast my vote for the drivers in Egypt, the world’s most enthusiastic honkers.