Sunday, November 30, 2014

Honk If You Love Driving in a Foreign Country

( I will be releasing some old posts that I intended to post while still living in Jordan but didn't get around to completing.)

Driving is an adventure wherever you happen to live. I think every city and town in the States approaches driving a little differently. Europeans tend to drive a little differently and the Middle East also has its unique way to approach the open (or mostly traffic jammed) road.

I've learned that Jordan is currently #24 of the 25 countries with the highest percentage of traffic fatalities according to population. There's rarely a day when I don't see a near accident, either between vehicles or involving a pedestrian.

Roads are for playing in, parking on, partying and arguing. Here's a list of driving suggestions for your next trip to Jordan

  1. Beware of trucks especially in the stretch from Petra to Aqaba.  There were probably five 18-wheeler trucks for every compact car in the Desert Highway.  Some of them are going so fast that our car shook as they whizzed by.  Some of them are so old and rickety and going so slow.  Some are covered in neon lights—neon lightsthat will strain your eyes as you pass them.  Some are carrying such heavy load that the entire truck is running at an angle.  They do not make for a comfortable drive.  From the Desert Highway, we lost the trucks north of Ma-an; most if not all exited towards Highway 5 which leads to Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
  2. Read the road signs.  Yes, your GPS may be updated, but with construction work and road closures, you can end up on a road to Saudi Arabia or Iraq.
  3. Watch out for speed bumps and speed control patrols.  The police cars are positioned throughout the highways.  I can imagine that getting pulled over by one would not be such a pleasant experience.  Watch out also for speed bumps; most of them are not sign-posted or painted so a lot of cars make a sudden stop just before them.  That’s a surefire accident if you’re right behind and not paying attention.  The speed bumps almost always come in pairs.  I highly recommend that you keep an eye out for them because if you hit them when you’re going at 100kph, you could cause damage to your car.
  4. Don’t get distracted by the neon signs.  The Desert Highway is peppered with tea shops by the roadside.  You’ll recognize them by their big, flashing, neon lights.  Try not to get distracted by them when driving at night and keep your focus on the road.

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