Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Free for All

The roads of Tunis are not for the faint of heart. I've been stunned by the unregulated way both drivers and pedestrians seem to conduct themselves. This is what have observed thus far:
  1. Lane lines are for decoration only; nobody pays attention to them. Ever!
  2. There's one rule that applies at an intersection: Go! It's the other guy's job to avoid you.
  3. When you encounter a traffic signal, you can proceed only when you see either a green, yellow or red light. This is not an exaggeration.
  4. There's no rule against making a left turn from the right lane or vice versa. 
  5. If you missed the street where you wanted to turn, just back up. The drivers behind you will just have to move out of the way.
  6. One way streets are just a suggestion. This is also not an exaggeration.
The chaos creates so much stress that one of the locals I've met says she takes a deep breath whenever she gets behind the wheel. Things are just that bad. At least I have not seen anyone attempt to text and drive under these conditions.

From what I gather, driving rules have always been observed with some flexibility in Tunis. But the situation apparently got worse after the revolution. Ever since then, the police are not as visible as they used to be. So you find more and more drivers doing whatever they can get away with.

I don't know if the traffic rules are the only laws that Tunisians are observing with less regularity in the wake of the revolution. If not, let's hope the country doesn't take too long to get its new government up and running. I can't imagine that Tunisians fought a revolution to gain the freedom to live without rules.

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