Drive in Rome?
You must be CRAZY !!
YOUTH MOTORWAYS JUNCTIONS ROAD-ETIQUETTE WHY? POLICE
In Italy, a motor accident could happen anytime, anywhere and
there would be nothing you could do about it, because people
are disgustingly dangerous drivers here. You are fifty times
likely to die on the roads in Rome than
you are in London or Los Angeles.
As far as getting around
driving is really the most boring method
for the tourist anyway, as the city's
roads are hopelessly congested and poorly surfaced, so you'll
spend a lot of time in traffic jams, and more time trying to
avoid hitting anything than looking out the window at the sights.
As I write, theres
three teenagers in a car in the street outside, teaching each
other to drive. Theres no L plates (P plates here, indicating
a learner driver) and I doubt if any of them are even provisionally
licensed. The police do
nothing about such things. Fourteen year-olds can go out on mopeds
without a helmet, and take a pillion passenger. They die like
Its weird. Its such a contradiction to the culture
which places so much adoration on its children, yet they care
nothing for their safety.
Okay, now get this - It's
9.15 pm on Saturday November 6th 1999. On the Via Aventino in
central Rome I was driving along and suddenly see the aftermath
of a motor accident - I draw closer and see that a police car
is involved. I get a little closer before I can see the other
car the police car collided with. Guess what? It's another police
car! Both cars are write-offs, their front ends are crushed in
- A head-on collision between two police cars on a busy city
street - Getting the idea about Roman drivers now? if that's
how the police drive, what can you expect from the civilians?
Baby/child safety-seats in
cars are a rare sight. Babies are instead bounced on mummys
knee in the front seat while daddy weaves in and out down the
ring-road at eighty miles an hour.
The other day I saw a man riding a scooter along a fast main
road with a small child sitting behind him, and an even smaller
tot (perhaps a two-year-old) standing on the 'floor' of the
scooter in front of him, holding the handlebars. None were wearing
On the motorways (freeways)
people cut in on you from the inside, or even from the hard shoulder,
overtake you with inches to spare, thus nearly forcing you off
the side of the road or into the
armco. A lot of people die this way.
Sooner or later they will kill me or my children or other innocents,
with their stupid, dangerous, blindly-uncaring driving tactics.
I cannot understand why people should drive like this!
Its insane! And grossly antisocial. And the police do nothing
by way of prosecution or prevention.
The Great British T-Junction
as we know it is almost non-existent here - all the junctions
are merges, (ramps) but the length of the run-in
is never enough. Sometimes its a sort of three-way merge.
I am afraid to go out on the dual carriageway or the GRA (Rome's
or beltway), as I cannot see how to avoid colliding with someone
at the merges can be achieved by any other way than pure luck.
Ive thought and thought how it can be done safely, but
cannot find an answer. At least once a week I see the aftermath
of a shunt on one of these merges, and the faster roads out of
town are dotted
with bunches of flowers every couple
of miles as tributes marking where
people have died. Its weird. They remove their brains and
get into their cars.
There are numerous local
B-road junctions where not a single white line is painted on
the road, or Give Way (Yield) sign erected, so people just whizz
into it and hope for the best. They never give way.
And nobody signals. And nobody ever thanks you for moving over
and waiting for them if the road is narrow. People shoot out
from sideroads in front of you as if the likelihood of another
car approaching on the main road was out of the question. It's
If you assume the correct
at a junction, and are waiting patiently
for a gap in the on-coming traffic, people just whizz past you
on the inside because they think youve
broken down or something - Thus, even if you do the right thing,
you are in danger.
I feel like the victim of some torturing psychopathic bully -
If I resist the despot I'll be punched, if I succumb to his regime,
he'll punch me anyway. It's a No Win situation.
Imagine turning right (left
into a side-road, and waiting to give
way to traffic coming towards you
before you can make the turn. Now imagine that while youre
waiting, a stream of five or six cars come whistling past your
right-ear, driving up the kerb to get into the side road ahead
of you. Thats what they do here.
I dont understand how
they can gamble with their lives like this. It may be some ingrained
fatalism of nominally devout (is there such a thing as nominally
devout?) Roman Catholicism - Que sera sera, 'What
will be will be' - including motor accidents! I just don't get
Every single car exhibits
a prang of some description, as collisions great and small are
everyday occurrences, taken for granted as just part of life's
rich tapestry here.
All in all its an expensive place to drive,
the highest cost being human life.
Goodness knows how the insurance works.
The police just stand there
posing with their leather jackets, guns and sunglasses, pretending
that theyre American cops and randomly pulling
in people for no good reason at all, just to make a show of it.
There are no rules and the police enforce none, except when it
suits them, such as when some kid on his moped shot out and literally
rode underneath a friend of mine's
car recently - the traffic warden instantly
wrote my friend an on-the-spot fine of fifty quid! Probably because
he knew the local lads would have beaten him up if hed
only fined the kid. Its appalling.
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