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Old 04-03-2011, 11:50 AM
1,446 posts, read 4,598,610 times
Reputation: 991


One thing that I noticed about riding in a vehicle or being a pedestrian in some parts of the world is that it is DANGEROUS. I used to think that city driving is the US was bad. I went to Nicaragua when I was 22. We got into a taxi that drove as fast as he possibly could so that he could pick up more passengers. I got SCARED and grabbed onto the seat for dear life. When I landed back home in Boston and drove through the downtown, Boston drivers seemed so tame! Compared to the suburbs of NJ, Boston drivers are crazy, but after the taxi ride, it seemed so benign in comparison. Even the bus rides were scary. We were going at a pretty fast rate of speed on a bus to the beach. Cars would pull into the OPPOSITE LANE OF A TWO WAY HIGHWAY and pass us like that was a NASCAR race. My trip to East Africa was no better. Two-lane highways, very high rates of speed, no guardrails, all make the death toll on many third world country's highway disturbingly high. (Note: Though I thought that the driving in Mexico was more sane)

It is all relative. Some people in my colllege class that did trips abroad in Spain thought that the drivers in Spain were nuts...that's before they came with us to Nicaragua. You see, southern Europeans may be a bit crazy but I do not think that the death toll on the roads is as high as they are in most developing countries. For the sake of this discussion let's call the drivers in Suburban USA, Northern Europe and Japan first-rate drivers. That means that over all they are mostly sane and relatively sane. Mexico, southern Europe, and urban areas in the US etc. would be second-rate. The crazy driving that I saw in Central America can be labeled third rate due to the high death toll. Based on this, what are the other countries around the world? Let me start...

Urban US - Second Rate
Suburban US - First Rate
Sweden - First Rate
Italy, Spain and Greece - Second Rate
Canada - First rate (except perhaps Montreal)
Kenya - Third Rate
Nicaragua - Third Rate
Mexico - Second Rate

That is just where I have been or know people that have been there. Please share your rating and stories. I'd love to hear about other countries.
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Old 04-03-2011, 11:59 AM
Location: SW Missouri
15,852 posts, read 35,142,600 times
Reputation: 22695
This is a perfect example of why *I* drive everywhere. If I can't drive there, I don't go. I had a dear, dear friend who was killed in a bus crash in Turkey once and i swore from that moment on that I would never put myself in that position. It's just NOT WORTH IT.

I once took a taxi in Galveston and the moron drove like a maniac. When I did not tip him, I told him that I do not support people who break traffic laws. He's lucky I paid the fare. Never again. Ever.

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Old 04-03-2011, 12:59 PM
230 posts, read 905,306 times
Reputation: 233
Here in Rio people drive pretty crazy. The bus drivers especially. Other parts of Brazil can be crazy but surprisingly the drivers in Sao Paulo I have found more sane. Maybe because the traffic is so bad that most of the time it is almost impossible to go fast.
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Old 04-03-2011, 01:21 PM
Location: Yorkshire, England
5,586 posts, read 10,657,967 times
Reputation: 3111
You get a few boy racers in this country (not so much in London but elsewhere where there's less congestion) but otherwise I've got no complaints about driving abilities here, unless there's snow on the ground in which case expect complete chaos. The driving test is quite thorough/lessons pretty expensive and the pass rate is something like 40%, so you don't get your licence until you're pretty safe. I've heard the toughest driving tests are in Norway, my Norwegian ex-girlfriend told me all about having to take lessons in the dark/on snow/up mountains etc which we don't have to do.

Naples in Italy had 12-year-olds on mopeds doing 50mph up tiny cobbled streets, buses overtaking buses where there clearly wasn't room, nobody stopping at red lights, drink driving etc. The bus drivers in Guatemala also drive like lunatics on winding, mountainous passes.
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Old 04-03-2011, 05:14 PM
Location: You Ta Zhou
866 posts, read 1,560,862 times
Reputation: 401
The worst driving I've ever seen was in Xi'an in China. Traffic signs are thought of as optional, there are very few crosswalks, cars honk constantly, and people drive as fast as possible. Some friends who had been there for two years when we met said that they had experienced two bus crashes, one involving a pedestrian. People who stay for only a day are likely to observe an accident.
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Old 04-03-2011, 05:32 PM
Location: Victoria TX
42,554 posts, read 87,003,003 times
Reputation: 36644
Driving in Mexico has become very sane in recent decades. Care very expensive in Mexico, and really, folks, people don't want to wreck them. People drive slow, according to sub-optimal road conditions. They are courteous and give way. If you break down or have trouble, they stop to help. There are speed humps everywhere, so speeds are very low in all cities and towns. Labor is very cheap, so people who can afford cars can afford the upkeep to keep them in safe running condition. There are pedestrians everywhere, and the penalty is very steep for hitting one. There are, of course, some maniacs, but in general, Mexicans drive their cars no faster than an American would on the same road condition. (Trucks and buses is a different matter, but you can see them coming.)

Most important of all, the people drive ATTENTIVELY. They have to, because there are so many unexpected things that can happen suddenly on Mexican roads. No driver is texting, only pilots do that. In America, no drivers are paying attention to anything related to driving. Why should they, America is so rigid and disciplined, there are no surprises on the road.

Central America is pretty much the same. For example, if there is a road construction project or a washout, there will be (maybe) a hand-painted warning sign, balanced by a rock. All drivers just proceed into the zone, with no controlling markers, and courteously take turns while finding their way through. No big deal. No flashers a mile ahead, no doubled fines, no flagmen. The drivers are civilized.

Latin American bus drivers are very competent and conscientious drivers, especially when sober. It is classified as murder for a bus driver to have an accident in which a passenger is killed. Considering the mountain road conditions and the condition of the retired old US school buses they are driving on bald tires, their record of safety is exemplary. When they pass on a hairpin turn, they know that the driver coming the other way expects them to, and is watching out for them.

For really harrowing traffic, though, go to YouTube and search for /hanoi traffic/. There are so many videos of that, I think Hanoi Traffic is becoming one of the most popular global tourist attractions. I gave up even trying to cross busy streets there.
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Old 04-03-2011, 07:28 PM
Location: Murika
2,526 posts, read 3,005,647 times
Reputation: 1929
You should try India some time in the future. It will make driving in Nicaragua look like the sanest, most logical driving you have ever seen...

I have to admit that I have my doubts that suburban drivers in the US are first rate drivers. Perhaps on a straight road, shielded from any extraneous influence, in good weather.

Many, and I really mean many, could not parallel park if their life depended on it... Many are also unable to deal with even the slightest unexpected obstacle in the street. I have even been in a car with a person who was unable to make a U-turn.

If you lack even the most basic understanding of how to operate a vehicle other than during prime conditions, you are simply NOT a good driver. In fact, I am afraid of such drivers to a greater degree than I am of Nicaraguan drivers - and I have been to Nicaragua more frequently than I can remember.
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Old 04-04-2011, 11:10 AM
6,351 posts, read 21,538,959 times
Reputation: 10009
I was stationed in South Korea in the '70's. Maybe things have (hopefully) improved, but I noticed a couple of unusual habits:

1. Korean taxi drivers seemed to not know how to downshift; they'd go around a corner in 4th gear and let the transmission lug until the engine FINALLY caught up with it...

2. At intersections at night. Everyone turned out their headlights until the GREEN light came on.
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Old 04-04-2011, 03:32 PM
Location: Santiago, Chile
44 posts, read 221,472 times
Reputation: 48
Lima, Peru - Third Rate
Buenos Aires, Argentina - Third Rate
Santiago, Chile - First Rate
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Old 04-04-2011, 07:01 PM
Location: Miami, FL
769 posts, read 1,731,803 times
Reputation: 623
Panama! I cannot speak for the entire country, but I can speak for the town of Colon. Horrible drivers! It would seem that there are no traffic laws, or maybe they're just not enforced. Just so you can get an idea, the tour guide had to explain to us with a nervous laugh that in Panama, the bigger vehicle generally gets the right-of-way. Not because it's the law, but because they usually come out on top in case of a collision. This was explained to us after nearly getting demolished by an imported American school bus painted red that is supposed to be part of their public transportation system, less than 3 blocks from the port. We even got a full tour of one of the 3 traffic lights in the whole country. Needless to say, I would NOT want to be a pedestrian on those street. Scary stuff. The Canal was pretty cool though.
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