By: Blonde One
To get to and from our project town near to the Algerian border, we had to endure 8 hour bus journeys. After most of the team fell asleep (this was quite quick) I turned my thoughts to driving etiquette. Our driver Saidd was very good and I felt quite safe in his hands.
It seems to be the case when overtaking bikes and motorbikes that you get very close to them, beep in an aggressive way and expect them to get out of the way. This system always worked but left me feeling a tad nervous.
When overtaking anyone slower than you, you must again get as close as possible, pull out with a sharp motion of the steering wheel, then floor it.
Saidd had a system of waving to other drivers, but I could not work out what it was. He would only wave to certain vehicles. It wasn’t always similar size vehicles, it wasn’t just men, it wasn’t vehicles with multiple passengers. The closest I could come to a conclusion was that he was only waving to vehicles the same colour as his: white.
It seemed to be perfectly acceptable, even on a hairpin bend with a sheer drop, to do a 3 vehicle simultaneous overtake. It was common for us to overtake a lorry that was already overtaking a bike, or for a car to overtake us when we were overtaking a lorry.
The crash barriers on the mountainside roads were purely for decoration. Often they were not there at all, but when they were there, they were broken where a car had not been prevented from hurtling over the side!
In every country there is a hand gesture to mean ‘you idiot’. I soon learned this from Saidd as he raised his left hand, made an open cup shape with his fingers and rotated his wrist quickly! It seems that it is not acceptable for a petrol tanker to be overtaking on a hairpin bend without leaving enough time to get back onto their own side of the road when there’s a minibus full of 13 teenagers coming the other way!!!