Thursday, January 27, 2011

Egypt School of Driving: Traffic Lanes

Did you ever wonder who decided why lines should be put on the roads? Why are only 3 lanes put on the road when actually 4 lanes of traffic will fit on the road? I mean, seriously, if no one follows the lines why bother putting them on the road in the first place?

In Cairo, lines on the road are more of a suggestion than the rule. You might be surprised to find that even when the roads are clear that most Egyptian drivers still manage to completely ignore the *suggested* lanes.

For me, I have learned to appreciate the idea of staying within the lines ever since I was a child. Years I spent coloring inside the lines. Now I cringe to think of all those Egyptian coloring books scribbled all over by children with no regard for the lines!

Okay, so maybe I've taken it a little too far.

But there are distinct differences between we Americans use lanes on the road and how the majority of cars on Cairo streets use lanes. As usual, we'll use the 2006 Kentucky Driver's Manual as a reference.

How to use lanes.
"Smooth driving allows you to keep more distance between yourself and other drivers and also helps improve fuel economy.

If there are three or more lanes in one direction, the middle lane or lanes are for through traffic. The left lane is for drivers who want to pass or turn left. The right lane is used by drivers who want to go slower or who are entering or turning right. If a road has only two lanes in one direction, the right lane generally has the smoothest traffic flow, with the left lane being reserved for the passing of other vehicles. Remaining in the left lane on a limited access highway is illegal."

Smooth driving is not having to stop EVER. Everyone knows that the lines on the road are for decoration. Make sure to use the far left lane if a u-turn is coming up and you're wanting to go straight. Everyone turning left will appreciate having to wait for you to block traffic to go straight instead of turning left yourself. The same goes for turning right. If you need to make a right turn, be sure to wait until the last minute to cut straight across several lanes of moving traffic to turn right. Again, who wants to be bored while driving?

How to pass properly.
"In general, you should pass on the left. Passing on the right can be dangerous since other drivers do not expect it. Vehicles on the right side are also more difficult to see. The operator of a vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle upon the right only under conditions permitting such movements safely. Such movement shall not be made by driving off the roadway, unless the vehicle passed comes to a complete stop and such movement may be made safely."

It is true that passing is safer done from the left side. But the best way to pass is to move to either the left or right side of the car you want to pass, flash your lights or honk your horn to tell them to move aside. Just remember that there are no personal space laws so be sure to use every available inch to fit your car between other cars while passing. The tighter the space, the more points you get.

How to turn properly.
"When turning into another street, turn into the lane nearest to you. If you are turning left from a street with two or more lanes, turn from the lane nearest the center line. If you are turning right, turn from the lane nearest the curb.

If you need to change to another lane, do so only after you have finished your turn and when the traffic is clear.

If you have already started through an intersection when the light changes, keep going. If you have started to make a turn, follow through. Last-second changes can cause collisions.

If you miss your turn go on to the next intersection and work your way back to where you want to go."

Turning on the roads of Cairo is a national sport. Whether it's cutting across several lanes of traffic to catch that u-turn rather than continuing on down the road to the next one or making oncoming traffic come to an abrupt halt by veering right suddenly to make a quick right turn, you don't want to miss out on making your mark on the road.

And as for last-second changes, well, didn't someone say better late than never? If you start to get on the 6th of October bridge and realize it's blocked, don't worry about backing back down the ramp. The traffic coming up behind you is just waiting for a car to swerve to avoid so no worries. It may seem crazy to back down a busy street but in Egypt, that's just the way things are done!

Image courtesy walid.hassanein

1 comment:

  1. Superb post on driving in Egypt, although I think that they actually make more like 6 lanes out of 3, no? Hoping you and your family are safe and secure in this time of excitement.


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