Head On


Here is a series of images that give you an idea of the ‘rules of the road’ here in Jeddah. ‘No rules!’ Yes, we are moving. And yes it is a certain head on encounter. Like that old James Dean movie, who will chicken first?

Closer to home, that traffic light is always congested. The cars are often lined up 100 or so from the light. The green light is maybe 20 seconds so it’s easy to understand the back-up.

I live and we turn off just past the tree on the left. No one waits. No one! So you move over into oncoming traffic and you make a new lane. You edge into the middle to let oncoming traffic get by. Or maybe you don’t.

Obviously we are out in the oncoming lane because we need to make a left turn. It all makes sense, right? I’m ok as long as I’m following someone else. I just don’t want to be the first to encounter an oncoming car. So, as the crowd goes, my driver does too. And that means he will even completely block oncoming traffic.

Which, I might add, the oncoming traffic really doesn’t slow, so that this is a slow motion disaster waiting to happen. Not to be too sexist, I keep telling myself that this is all men driving and therefore we will not have unplanned mayhem or random hysterical reaction to insane driving. White knuckle? You bet!

So just when you think you have seen it all, notice the red light. Notice the traffic lane barrier. See the car on the wrong side of the barrier headed in the wrong direction with oncoming traffic. Try to imagine how you get out of that mess. Folks are either very rude or very understanding. I will close by adding that a one way street sign (and there are many) is no impediment. And even on a busy one way multilane thoroughfare, it’s not a problem if you want to go the wrong way on the boulevard. The police stop some people randomly. But I am told they don’t chase. A high speed chase could result in more injuries (to the police) and so they don’t chase bad drivers.