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The normal daily madness! Traffic and Driving in Northern Cyprus!

The normal daily madness!

Traffic and Driving in Northern Cyprus!

by Ralph Kratzer

This week I was driving a few times with my bike “Black Betty” on the streets around Kyrenia due to the wonderful weather.

Black BettyI have been driving now for 40 years vehicles with either 2, 3, 4 or more wheels. In my professional and personal life I have driven more than 1 million miles. Before I came to Cyprus, I drove a few times from Hatay (South Turkey) to Munich (capital of Bavaria) and back with 40-ton trucks, just because I always wanted to do this since I was a little boy. So I can rightly claim to have some driving experience and, in my consideration from my lifetime on the roads, I have seen a pretty lot of dangerous situations.

I do not know, does it come with age that my nerves become weaker? I have lived in North Cyprus now for 10 years, but the scenes I have seen daily on the streets during the past 2 or 3 years, caused my neck hairs to stand up sometimes, and I wonder: Are people over here always in a hurry, constantly distracted, completely overstrained, or can they simply not drive?

Only two of several examples that I have experienced in this single last week:

I’m going with „Black Betty“ on the main road through Alsancak. I want to turn right onto to a carpark to visit a friend in his office. I indicate, stop nearly at the middle of the road,SUV and wait for a small gap in the oncoming traffic. One of these great pseudo-SUVs also wants to turn into the same driveway and first stops behind me. But then it pushes past me and turns diagonally in front of me. When we both can finally turn, it simply cuts me up to get hold of a parking place 2 seconds before me. I would not have needed the space with my motorcycle anyway… A middle-aged lady leaves the car and I ask her: „Couldn´t you wait 5 seconds behind me?“ She looks at me completely puzzled and, after describing the situation to her again, she answers: „I have simply not seen you!“ That scares me! A heavy Harley Davidson with lights on (even during the day!) and blinking indicator is overlooked ???

Drive on phoneI drive back, again by motorcycle, from Girne to Alsancak, with the allowed 65 km/h (+5 km/h bonus!), that makes about 70 km/h. The evening rush hour is fierce, one vehicle after another, overtaking is almost impossible. Nevertheless, a large white Audi is driving very close behind me. I see in the rearview mirror that he jostles. Although there is oncoming traffic, he starts to overtake, of course cuts in extremely close before me, to turn left about 500 meters later into his driveway! Why this dangerous manoeuver? Incidentally, of course, the driver had his mobile phone at his ear!

Examples like this are nearly endless….

Vehicles that stray from the road, because the driver is looking for something in the car, is busy on the phone (or both), is apparently drunk or had his license made 50 years ago on a donkey.

Old man with glassesDolmus drivers (Dolmus = minibus full of passengers) almost never wear a pair of glasses! Have you ever noticed that? Although most of them are already at an advanced age, all seem to see excellently! Strange and scary, isn´t it?

Motorcycle and especially scooter riders, wind through the busy traffic without a helmet and completely regardless. What if a car in front of him just turns without indicating?

IndicatorOh yeah…! One of my favorite topics! Turn signals do not seem to be present in Cyprus cars for cost reasons! Many people obviously think: The driver behind me in the traffic can consult the crystal ball if I want to turn now or I will stop unforeseen ! And the oncoming driver can see it anyway, that I want to turn quickly just in front of him! So why indicating?

How many times have you already experienced this? You´re on the main road and from a side street or driveway someone wants to turn out. You can see that the driver looks in your direction. So everything alright? No, of course not! Although there was enough time before to come out without haste onto the main road they wait until you are only 20 metres away! Then they move out! Why not, we all love to make emergency brakings!

Women who go for a ride with their toddlers on the front passenger seat without a child seat or any seatbelt, painting their faces by the way, eating and making phone calls (anLoaded scooter art!)…. Scooter riders who, fully loaded with shopping bags, a pillion rider on the back seat, having a little child between their legs, all of the passengers of course without a helmet!…. Truck drivers with ancient rust buckets, completely overloaded and without any protection of their cargo against falling from the load area, driving much too fast…. everything already experienced in Northern Cyprus and much more!

Overloaded truckAs much as I love to live on this island, sometimes I’m just afraid I will not survive the day!

The police make a pretty good effort to master the situation, but as long as no change in thinking takes place in the minds of people, this is the famous tilting at windmills!

So, fellow citizens and road users, please take your time, concentrate and drive considerately, then we all have more from life!

11 replies »

  1. You summed it up early in your piece, Ralph: “…or can they simply not drive?”. The problem is exaggerated because they really do believe that they are the best drivers on earth. I endorse every word of your article, except that I am not sure about your belief that “the police make a pretty good effort to master the situation”; in my experience, they take no notice of drivers/riders with no seat belt, using telephones, unrestrained children, no helmets etc.

    • I was fined some years ago for using the mobile phone during driving in my car. And I saw the same policeman some days later looking obviously at a text message on his phone during driving on his police motorbike!!! LOL! In fact they do a lot of speed controls and routine traffic controls in Girne and surroundings. There is a rumour that they first and foremost fine foreigners… But this cannot be proven, it´s just a rumour! And I have definitely seen that they fine locals as well.

  2. Good article and one that should be reproduced in Turkish, but then the sort of people you are getting at do not think they are doing anything wrong. Recently seen people texting while driving, a lady applying make up and my pet hate……young children stood up between the front seats. Do the parents not know that a child travelling at 50kph through a car wind screen will kill said child.

    I do not understand the mentality of those in power that they appear to have no idea of the types of tv adverts we were obliged to watch from the 1960’s onwards that showed in graphic detail what happens in accidents when seat belts are not worn. One that sticks in my mind is from around 15 years ago where a group of people are travelling in a car and the talk over asks the question “who is the person most likely to kill you”? The film moves on to show it is the unrestrained person in the rear seat that head butts you, the driver, when you come to a sudden halt.

    I feel that North Cyprus must be shown these graphic advertisements regarding using mobile phones, no seat belts, children unrestrained etc very soon before it is too late for hundreds more people.

    • I remember in my childhood and youth we had this kind of TV-spots in Germany as well, sometimes really shocking little movies! But it helped to appeal to the people driving more carefully. I don´t know how the traffic situation is in UK at the moment, but I was really surprised some weeks ago how disciplined most of the drivers are in Germany now, although the traffic volume is much higher than it is over here.

  3. You are quite right Ralph Kratzer in pointing out the outrages and bad driving habits in TRNC. Everyone has to know their road rules before they can obtain their driving or riding lıcense, but many disobey the rules because of no respect to the rules or others lives. MORE STIFFER TRAFİC FINES , licence cancellations and jail for repeat offenders , will curb this disrespect . The polıice can raise alot of revenue for the government this way until the driving public learn the hard way and they will when the hip pocket hurts. Thanks for the artıcle Cyprus Scene ıt should be promoted ın the local news papers as well.

    • Unfortunately getting a driving license here is a farce. I know of 2 people who took their test in Girne and it was little more than the standing joke of drive 10 forwards and 10 back and you pass. Link that to the stupidity of allowing people aged 17 to pass this farce and immediately step into a high performance vehicle is a recipe for death.

      Enforcing the current laws would help but repeat offenders appear to have no substantial penalties, that is if they pay their fines in first place.

  4. I know exactly what you say! I have witnessed so many accidents in the couple of years I was in Cyprus. One time I actually thought about getting a dolmus into town. But the next day changed my mind when I saw it crashed on its roof by ilelli. Almost every one I know in the local scene drives drunk and its just as bad in the south! I stopped at a red light in larnaca once to let a woman cross the road and was beeped by a taxi behind mewho wanted me to drive through the red light. I rode motorcycles for about 20 years but wouldn’t risk it on the island. I feel vulnerable enough in a car. I have to be constantly vigilant and drive very defensively. Never relaxed. And I have taken an advanced drivers course. But nothing prepares you for the local drivers! Stay safe x

  5. not just red lights! also indicators, stop signs, speed limits, roundabouts, oneway streets, designated handicapped parking spaces, seatbelts, babyseats and insurance! (God/Allah will protect me!) Madness!

  6. After living in trnc for more then thirteen I have seen it all truck with a cow on each wing mirror running along.People stopping on roundabout having a chat ,me turning left person coming down side of me as he was going to over take me at time a lorry was heading for him so he though he was safe to come down my inside like a bat out of hell he was driving .,most people there did not take test, i remember .One woman i was in gym with .She was in her middle thirty i have to go early today as i have a driving test i said but you drive she said i no but police are checking more now she had been driving for more then twenty years so that tells how they drive in trnc .Well that is just a few I could give you a list of things that happen over the period I lived there.