I haven't yet had the pleasure of driving in Adana. I'm sure my time will come once our car arrives on the slow boat from D.C. However, I am not looking forward to it. Why? Because I have been observing the drivers around here, and they are terrifying.
I had grown accustomed to the drivers in New York and even D.C., which according to this survey is the worst driving city in the United States. Surprisingly, as aggressive and crazy as the drivers are in New York, that city didn't even make the top 10.
So then, where does Turkey rank on the list of worst drivers around the world? Well, in this 2009 survey, it ranked #4. Number four on a list of the ten most dangerous countries to drive in. That's pretty harsh. Now, there have been more updated lists since this survey was released four years ago, and Turkey wasn't even on it, which is reassuring. But having been here as a casual observer for the past few weeks, I can personally say the driving is still pretty terrible. Or maybe it's just here in Adana.
The rules of the road are very different here, and sometimes I wonder if rules exist at all. Red lights for stopping? Forget about it. Parking on the sidewalk without getting a ticket? Absolutely acceptable. In a way though, I kind of like that idea. I mean, finding a parking spot in big American cities is always such a hassle. Wouldn't it be nice to pull onto the curb, throw the car in park and go run your errands without fear of consequences?
But parking and red lights aside, what really scares me is the way drivers don't stay in their lanes and casually cut you off. Drivers will jump across three or four lanes of traffic to make a turn or exit a traffic circle, and they won't look twice before doing so. Cutting drivers off is a big deal here and that's how most accidents occur. Forget about checking rear view mirrors or blind spots. And turn signals are hardly ever used. They just go for it. I've seen it happen at least a dozen times so far, and my heart always ends up in my throat.
So what happens if you get hit or hit someone? Well, according to the one rule of driving that everyone does follow, you do not move your car. Once you move it, the accident is automatically deemed your fault and apparently you don't want that to happen. Then things get complicated.
Thankfully, the consulate employs a very smart, capable and extremely nice guy who will come out and assist you if you find yourself in such a predicament. (Go ahead Mom, you can breathe a sigh of relief now.) He will talk to the police and get things sorted out while you just stand there looking sheepish or pissed off, depending on who is really to blame for the accident. He is number two on my speed dial, right after S, but I sincerely hope I never have to call him.
When I took driver's ed oh-so-long ago, the first rule I learned was to always be alert. This is the rule to live by when driving in Adana. And probably in most cities going forward.
For now, I will stick with walking.