Archive for September 16th, 2007

September 16, 2007

Put the pedal to the metal baby

Yes, it was bound to happen, a rant on the driving habits of Trinis. Maybe it is just me, having suffered through the trenches of “Young Drivers of Canada” and being naturally completely anal – but locals drive like crazy people on adrenaline. Perhaps I have never experienced the true glory of Roman driving or Shanghai driving ( and given the PM’s predilection for Chinese labour, perhaps I should make a visit) but honestly driving on the roads here is like a giant grid version of Russian roulette. I drive a large car for the roads here and I observe the speed limit constantly, always use indicator lights ( even in my own driveway), I count 2 seconds between me and the car in front of me and I check my mirrors every 30 seconds. I am alone in these pursuits.

I have had occasion to make a few longer drives lately and I must say I am in a state of amazement that there isn’t more carnage on the roads than already exists. We are still awaiting breathalyser legislation to be implemented so, at present, drunk driving is not only happening – so is drinking while driving. I have even seen police officers holding a lager while behind the wheel. Add to this the fact that Vision 20/20 Trinidad & Tobago  ( developed country status by 2020) has no police radar to stop speeders and the fact that our police service doesn’t believe that anyone drives after 5pm and you have a recipe for disaster. If you can believe it speed traps here still involve a policeman parked by the side of the road with a stopwatch, another waiting further down the road with a stopwatch and a third intrepid soul further down waiting to jump into the roadway to flag over speed demons and you see the problem.

My recent jaunts have led me to conclude certain rules of the Trinidad road that I hereby place for your consideration:

  1. Indicator lights are optional equipment on cars sold here.

  2. In the event your car came with them you must activate them 2 nanoseconds before you actually turn.

  3. Changing lanes willy-nilly is fun and should be done at high speed.

  4. Nissan’s are all sports cars and should be driven at all times as if you are in the Indy 500.

  5. If you are over 70 you must drive in front of me at 8mph.

  6. If you are driving a 30 year old Datsun you must also drive in front of me at 7 mph.

  7. The white lines on T&T roads were put there as Easter decorations and can be safely ignored.

  8. If you are the Government you must pave the roads and put white lines no sooner than 6 weeks afterwards.

  9. Traffic lights are simply a general warning and may be observed at your discretion.

  10. People with cheap-ass cars should spend thousands on rims and loud exhausts. This is very important.

  11. Your car is a monorail train and you may feel free to use the lines on the road as your track.

  12. It is very important when driving at high speed that you should be close enough to the car in front of you to read the serial number on the rear window.

  13. It is essential that you speed up as you approach a red light with cars in front of you and then apply the brakes.

  14. If you drive a Royal Saloon taxi you must ensure it billows as much black smoke as possible.

  15. Overtaking must only be done when you actually see another car approaching.

  16. If you drive a Nissan and it, quite naturally, hits another car, you must stop in the middle of the road and engage in an animated discussion.

  17. The shoulder should really be called “ I am a waste of life and have no job but I must rush to get where I am going so I will use it” lane.

  18. And finally, if you park next to a dark blue Ford Mondeo ghia you must ensure you bump it, open your door into it or, at the very least, scratch it.

Maracas Beach, Trinidad