Not Stop Signs

Ok. I was born and raised in the “third world”. I was also raised to respect the rules of the road.

Numerous stints in Germany, France and other European countries have entrenched this way-of-life: if everyone follows the rules, no-one gets hurt. Since moving to the US, I have had this opinion strengthened immeasurably.

But this is not so in the third, or developing, world. I have yet to travel to any country not in the G8 where the word “stop”, written (mostly) in white on a red octagonal sign, has absolutely any visible meaning (clearly no enforceable meaning either).

It’s almost like it is offensive to stop. Something to be derided. It makes my life very distressing. If the car drivers have the right to ignore the stop at a pedestrian crossing, then is my right to cross the road lower? Will they stop? But what’s even more amazing is how the cars don’t seem to be in a constant fair-ground bumper car parade.

My ranking order for the worst nations at car driver rule following (from worst to best): Indian sub-continent drivers, South Africa, rest of Africa, China, Brazil, USA, Europe. (Note: South African drivers are probably the most dangerous drivers in the world as the rules they break are done with stupidity, arrogance and agression, but there are still some rules that are followed)

Driving in India can best be described as disorganised pandemonium, with a small touch of lucky telepathy. It seems that when approaching an intersection, it is necessary to tune into the minds of all other approachers and “feel” the rush they’re in. If they’re in more of a rush than I am, slow down and let them through. If not, I get right of way. And the worst thing is that it works.

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