Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Things to remember when driving in Cyprus

A better title for this post might be: "Why you shouldn't drive in Cyprus!"

According to a Reuters report, the Cyprus highway code is being updated.

Drivers in Cyprus have been told not to abandon their car in motion, or wave their hands and legs out of car windows.

This piece of advice is given in a new road safety code in the first major revamp of guidelines on driving practices in decades, the Phileleftheros daily reported.

With many known for driving with one hand, children bouncing about unrestrained in the back of vehicles and parking on pavements, the new code also sets out guidelines on how to use the much-loved horn.

Beeping will be prohibited in residential areas.

Uh . . . OK. Intrigued, I looked for more information. In a blog called 'This Is Cyprus', discussing the new highway code, I learned:

By page 29 we're getting to motorway and area signs (some of which are called 'sings' in this booklet) - then out of the blue is this question:

Q: When you come face to face with another vehicle what must you do?
A: Do not insist that the other vehicle goes off the asphalt.

Well, that's a relief!

. . .

This is followed by this rather bizarre set of instructions, which we're quite sure nobody obeys:

Q: When less than six vehicles are moving together in the same direction what distance must there be between each vehicle?
A: There should be a distance between each vehicle of at least 120ft. When the vehicles moving together are more than six they should be separated into two groups, each group should include less than six vehicle and there should be a distance between these gruops of at least 300ft.

Quite apart from the fact that very few people can remember the pre-decimal 'feet' measurement, and that cars generally drive a great deal closer than 120ft, we've no idea how they would divide, as if in a dance, to form two groups as soon as a seventh car joins them!

. . .

Then this slightly strange instruction:

How to make the left reverse move: As soon as you pass the sideboard on your left, stop on the left side of the main road and drive backwards on the left side of the side-road.

... so, if we see a sideboard on the street, we must go back and collect it.


Underneath is an even stranger instruction which sounds excessively dangerous:

How to make the right reverse move: As soon as you pass the side-road on your right stop on the right side of the main road. Look over your shoulder outside the window and drive backwards, stopping on the left side of the side-road.

This is a country where people drive on the left (or are supposed to, anyway). So they're saying that if you're on a main road, driving on the left, and see a turning on the right which you should have taken, you should drive onto the WRONG side of the main road, then reverse into the side street.

. . .

I did feel a little perturbed by this question on the final page:

Q: When we notice from the indicator panel that the motor is overhead, what are the usual causes?

Um... wouldn't we notice if the car was upside-down without having to check the indicator panel??

Fortunately we realised from the answers (such as 'not enough water in the radiator') that 'overhead' was simply a typing mistake for 'overheated'.

Sounds like a fun highway code!

My researches also turned up this advice on the BBC Personal Space Web site:

Cypriot Highway Code

If you hit a Greek, it's your fault.
If you hit an Arab, it's his fault.
If you hit a Turk, go to the police station and claim your prize.

There are 5 lanes on Cypriot dual carriageways, found in most town centres, notably Limassol. The main 2 lanes are both carriageways as normal. There is a middle lane in between the two carriageways, normally known as scenic island, but known in Cyprus as an emergency expressway where vehicles of any type go in any direction they like. The last two lanes on either side are known as the pavement and are exclusively used by pedestrians and taxi drivers. You have been warned.

Uh . . . OK, once more!

Frankly, after reading this, if I ever have to drive on Cyprus, I think I'll take a taxi - or a helicopter!



Anonymous said...

I once spent 2 weeks driving around Cyprus.

After 9 months of driving in Saudi Arabia, Cyprus drivers were tame.

HollyB said...

I rather like the Greek, Arab, Turk equation, giggle.

Harrison said...

Brings to mind the old 1980's sit-com Perfect Strangers when Balki Bartokomous, immigrant from a fictional Mediterranean island, is being taught to drive by his American cousin Larry.

Anonymous said...

At least landmines are no longer a hazard.