You’re driving (me) crazy

11 Mar

“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”

~ George Carlin

Driving in Honduras is an adventure in and of itself. One of the main AFS rules is that participants must not drive. And trust me, after living here for just three weeks, driving is the last activity I would want to do. Being a passenger is scary enough!

I used to think driving in Mexico was crazy, but the Hondurans take it to a whole other level. The two prerequisites to drive on the roads here are: be fast and be aggressive. Horns are used constantly.

Want to turn in front of oncoming traffic? Use your horn. Red light taking too long to change? Use your horn. Merging onto a highway? Use your horn. Other cars driving too slowly? Use your horn. Driving straight in your own lane? Use your horn.

This last horn use may seem a little redundant, but it’s actually very important. If you don’t actively use your horn to warn off the other traffic, cars are likely to push you off the road if they want to enter your lane.

The crazy driving here makes my taxi rides to and from work quite exciting. It feels a little bit like being the passenger in a dodgem car crossed with a racing car. I’m constantly amazed by some of the crazy shenanigans Honduran drivers get up to.

My two regular taxi drivers are quite good. Unlike many Honduran drivers, they do stop for red lights and they’ve both impressively avoided some near misses during the last three weeks.

I feel quite comfortable in the car with them, although it still startles me a little when we turn in front of oncoming traffic. The gaps in traffic deemed acceptable here are microscopic compared to the gaps I would wait for if driving back home in Australia.

In Honduras, when you want to turn left (crossing traffic) it’s more a case of forcing your way through with honks of the horn and hand signals when there’s a traffic jam, or when the traffic is moving quickly, speeding round the corner with the hope that the oncoming traffic will actually slow down.

And if there’s already a car or two waiting to turn left, you don’t form a queue behind them. It’s much quicker to pull up alongside them (also neatly blocking their view of the oncoming traffic) and then race past them in the first gap you see so you can beat them into the street you both want to enter.

Right of way here either goes to the faster car, the bigger automobile, the person who honks their horn the most, or the driver with the most guts in a game of vehicular chicken. Merging is generally done at high speed with horns blazing.

If you slow down to merge, the cars behind you will just pass you to merge themselves, so it’s best to just enter the traffic with an icy determination. Nine times out of ten the cars on the road you’re merging into will either move lanes, or swerve to narrowly avoid hitting you at the last moment.

UN poster : Most officials’ deaths are due to accidents. Drive carefully.

UN poster : Most officials’ deaths are due to accidents. Drive carefully.

Surprisingly though, I’ve only seen three motor accidents since arriving here. According to Wikipedia there are 13.5 road fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants each year in Honduras.

For comparison’s sake, in Australia the rate is 5.71 per 100,000 inhabitants. So there are definitely more road deaths here, but nothing like Egypt’s 42 road fatalities per 100,000 people.

Looking at things from a different perspective, the current rate of homicide in Honduras is 91.6 per 100,000 inhabitants.  So when facing crazy Honduran driving I guess I can “comfort” myself with the fact that I’m much more likely to be murdered than die in a car accident!

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4 Responses to “You’re driving (me) crazy”

  1. MB March 11, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    I’ve seen you drive. You should feel right at home 🙂

  2. Irkitated March 12, 2013 at 5:08 am #

    Through many years of driving, I have managed to categorise bad drivers into three distinct groups. There is the ‘stupid bad driver’, the ‘selfish bad driver’, ‘and the ‘douchebag bad driver’.

    Read my full rant about bad drivers here
    http://irkitated.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/rant-about-bad-drivers.html

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  1. Greetings Earthlings | Honduran hiatus - April 3, 2013

    […] frail to join me on this trip, my efforts to remain healthy in the face of rice and beans, or the crazy drivers of Tegucigalpa, my main aim here is to document my thoughts, feelings and reactions to living and working in […]

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