Cypriot drivers probably don’t study the highway code. In fact I don’t think they know any code, even if it was the ‘rough track code’. They either drive at a snails pace on single track roads, or pull out in front of you without warning. Traffic lights are pretty much decoration and overtaking happens when you feel like it, even if it’s a blind bend or the brow of a hill.
The trouble is this kind of attitude rubs off after a while. We have a set of traffic lights for some road works which are gradually migrating up the road towards us. I’ve sighed and muttered as I’ve watch a series of local drivers totally ignore the red light and drive ahead, only to come face to face with the oncoming traffic whose lights are on green. The cars mount the pavement or pull into people’s drive to try and pass, but all seems normal, no-one is shouting, “didn’t you see the red light?”
Earlier today I approached the lights and realised they weren’t working – no lights at all. I hesitated but decided to carry on and hope no one was coming. Further on two cars were heading straight for me at a fairly slow speed – “oops”, I thought, as one of them kindly pulled over for me to pass, while the other motioned for me to slow. I was expecting him to wind the window down or ask me to reverse, but no, he simply pulled across in front of a shop entrance to let me through. The queue at the other end was quite long but they all seemed chilled. So far so good. Returning by the same route later in the dark, there was a red light showing…but I had a suspicion the lights at the other end might still be broken…so I just drove through. A few cars on side roads waited for me to pass and when I reached the other end I glanced back at the lights which were green as a car approached from the other direction. Lucky break. But I didn’t think much about it, except, “what a waste of time those lights are.”
It’s happening. I am becoming a Cypriot driver – with no respect for traffic lights! Whatever next? I won’t be bothering to indicate when I turn off or decide to suddenly come to a halt up on a pavement. Next week I’ll be stopping in the middle of the road to chat to my mates in another truck while a queue of cars waits behind me.
Well, I suppose the best advice is – if you can’t beat them – join them.