… alas, a piece of sound advice probably overlooked by at least three drivers recently. The first was the driver of a smashed up 4-door saloon vehicle that was upside down in a ditch near Governors Beach - fortunately no blood to be seen; the second had been driving a van which I saw “parked” on top of a crushed bollard which, in turn, sat upon a concrete T-junction verge and the third… well who can say? But the remnants of the incident included shattered glass and bits of mangled motorbike… at the exact same spot where, previously, a car had “overtaken” me (or cut me up!) by driving the wrong way round a mini-roundabout in Nicosia.
In spite of the above observations, I still feel that driving in Cyprus is a MUST as the scenery is stunning and diverse. The island is about 140 miles long from end to end and around 60 miles across at its widest point. Within its three and a half thousand or so square miles it has mountains, flat lands, lush as well as barren land, salt and freshwater lakes, dams, forests, sandy and rocky beaches and numerous sites of historical and archaeological interest – all reachable by road!!!!! Everyone… absolutely everyone should come to Cyprus for a holiday but maybe adopt an element of caution if planning to drive here.
On average I see around four accidents a month but in May I saw the three aforementioned incidents within a few days of each other. The trick here is to drive safely and be alert (remember the two second rule), especially as last year one in thirty people that went to meet their maker, did so as a consequence of a road traffic accident. Statistically I am more likely to be killed on the roads of Cyprus than drown in my bath or die in a train crash! Hmmmm…. thinks…. must cut down on my baths, start taking more showers and make better use of public transport… or maybe just stop driving in Cyprus!
Apparently the three biggest road killers are drink driving, not wearing seatbelts and jumping the lights… no mention then of tailgating, speeding, pulling out of junctions without looking for oncoming traffic, or death caused by the fright of being honked at aggressively by hooter-happy drivers? With regard to the latter, the Highway Code stipulates that the vehicle horn should be used to warn other road users of your presence and should NEVER BE USED AGGRESSIVELY – I guess the Highway Code might not have been translated into Greek! My older brother once coached a guy who owns a car repair business in Egypt where, apparently, the most replaced car part in Cairo is the hooter/horn. I wonder if it’s the same for Cyprus… though I imagine that brake pads must be a serious contender for most sold vehicle part here.
You’ve probably already gathered that Cypriots are not shy when it comes to using their car horns; you only have to wind down your window to hear what sounds like a serious battle for first prize in Car Park Catch Phrase. The challenge for me personally is not to respond aggressively when I’m confronted with the happy hooter brigade…. Like the driver I witnessed yesterday hooting furiously because someone was trying to park and, for a nanosecond, prevented access to the road; or the driver that hooted me because I was stationary at red lights; or the driver that blasted on her horn because I indicated and moved over into a feeder lane (for the life of me I have no idea what the last two were about). Actually, use of indicators here is mesmerizing… the code seems to be “maneuver then signal (incorrectly or not at all) and, of course, totally ignore looking in the mirror”. I’ve lost count of the number of times a parked car has indicated (on the nearside) and then pulled out in front of me just as I’m driving past. I find it helps to keep a ready supply of tranquilizers in the glove compartment, plenty of hair dye in the bathroom cabinet and a note on my dashboard reminding me that…. only a fool breaks the two second rule!
And so, dark hair colour restored and mood sufficiently calmed, I’ll finish by recounting an incident that happened earlier in the year where a woman (Penelope Pitstop?) was spotted driving the wrong way along one of the highways (for around 12 kilometers). The Whacky Races incident caused numerous drivers to dodge out of “Penelope’s” way and I heard that until now the police have not managed to find her. Comments on the news website where I read the article site included:-
• the criminal mastermind simply vanished into thin air! There were no fingerprints, no DNA, no mobile phone footage – nothing for the police to go on. We just have to wait in fear for her to strike again – the masked wrong-way highwayman
• the police were probably all in the coffee shop!
• She was driving on the correct side of the road – end colonialism in Cyprus!