What country is the hardest to drive in for a foreigner?
Peter Wade, visited 79 countries, all 7 continents
Based on the nearly 80 countries I’ve visited, and the 23 in which I’ve driven, here is my personal assessment.
1.India - This country is just pure chaos. Cities of over a million people with practically no stoplights, traffic that allegedly drives on the left but freely utilizes the wrong lane for a risky pass at any moment, city buses with people clinging to the outside, their weight causing the buses to lean at such an angle it defies gravity (sometimes they even tip over), everything from speeding motorcycles to slow-moving ox-drawn carts and cows are thrown together on the same road, and many streets are still made of dirt.
2.Egypt - There are laws, but my tour guide said they simply aren’t enforced. Cars speed at 90 mph just inches past people walking on the roadways.
3.Vietnam - There is a system, I just don’t get it. But it sure is fascinating to stand back and watch a four-way intersection in a major metropolis with traffic coming from all four directions but no stoplight and no stop sign. Somehow, without any direction of traffic stopping, the motorbikes, vans, bicycles, and tuk tuks all flow through the intersection without hitting each other! And it’s perfectly normal for someone to make a left turn right through oncoming traffic. The vehicles just flow around them like water!
4.China - As soon as I landed in Beijing for the first time and was attempting to leave the airport, I crossed a one-way bridge only to see another car backing up toward me at about 30 mph! My friend said it was a very typical maneuver. After all, the bridge was new and most people weren’t familiar with where it took them. So why not back up against traffic? Much like Vietnam, the vehicles simply flow together just inches from each other, except at least China has stoplights.
5.Scotland - I tried this last summer. Wow! Narrow roads, driving on the left (sometimes), cars drifting into your lane, cows and horses in the road, and small towns where everyone parks and obstructs traffic on both sides, so the car that gets through the narrow avenue between the parked cars is the driver with the most bravado. The other one has to back up.
(Traffic in New Delhi, India)
Chris Ebbert, Innovation Advisor at Government of Sweden
I’ll vote for China.
I have lived in China for a few years, and never drove, but took taxis and cars that had drivers, not only because it is not so easy for a foreigner to get permission to drive in China, but also because the dynamics of driving in China are very hard to get your head around if you aren’t Chinese.
The main thing to understand is the general, Chinese approach to negotiation. If you have been to China, or met Chinese people, you will have observed that it is different from the way of us westerners.
Let’s say the situation is one where two strangers walk towards each other on a sidewalk:
1.in a western country, one of the two pedestrians would be the first to slightly change course, so as to permit both to pass by each other with ease;
2.in China, it works like this: one pedestrian slightly changes course, which will cause the other pedestrian to also change to the same side; since this aggravates the situation, the second pedestrian will then quickly make a maneuver that accommodates the first pedestrian’s space requirements.
As weird as that sounds, it has to do with politeness, and being courteous enough to give people options.
And then, you get a whole lot of other things that just don’t work, mentally, for guys like me:
1.double lane hogging; if you aren’t certain where to go, try to occupy as many lanes at the same time as you can so as to have as many options as you may need; you will see cars driving on the markings, solidly;
2.high intensity crawling; every now and then, in the middle of a twelve lane, Shanghai freeway, there is that Porsche Cayenne, lugging along at 3 km/h, with a driver clenching the wheel in a posture of absolute fixation on something nobody else can see.
3.stopping for no reason; many Chinese drivers drive as if they were walking through a supermarket. “Oh, look, almond milk! Shall we stop and get some?” And they will just stop, anywhere, without recognisable reason. I would probably rear-end a car a day.
The only place in China I ever enjoyed driving in was this one:
Musavvir Mahmud, lives in Dhaka, Bangladesh
Bangladesh. Not only for foreigner but also for Bangladeshis as well.
Here are two images of the capital Dhaka:
Just see, buses, cars, motorbikes, rickshaws (three wheeler manual vehicle) and even pedestrians on road. I guess 90% drivers have no idea what is the function of lanes on road. They change lanes just they wish. Cars from left lane turns right in an intersection (we drive on left) or vice versa. From nowhere rickshaws come in front of buses and slows down all the traffic behind it.
Buses take and drop passengers any place they want, even middle of the road, in the middle lane. If you are driving beside a bus, you have to be a cautious more than a pilot engaged in a dog-fight because you don’t know when someone will get down from a running bus in the middle of a street.
Highways are more dangerous. Most highways are two lanes both ways, no divider. Buses and trucks sometimes drive like they are on F1 competition, particularly at night. In the day time, you will face lots of local manual or semi-auto vehicles on highways coming from nowhere. Motorbike accidents are common because cows, goats, dogs jump in front of your bike.
Sam Ava, lives in Syracuse, NY (2016-present)
INDIA definitely takes the cake:
Poorly designed intersections with no lane system
As you can see, In many countries, intersections are separated by lanes, the two lanes on the left are left turn only in the first picture, and others go straight. In India, quite often people who want to make a turn are at the opposite end of the traffic cutting across people wanting to go straight. It’s very dangerous and I personally saw many accidents because of this.
Random vehicles such as bullock carts, Rickshaws, etc coupled with numerous animals such as cows, bulls, goats etc. You must take care to never hurt or hit a cow. They’re the kings and queens of Indian roads.
Lack of stop, yield signs and no right of way rules at smaller intersections. You go in and hope everybody else slows down for you.
The go nment doesn’t give a crap about the quality of roads, driving is an absolute nightmare in the rainy(monsoon) season, most of your time will be spent dodging the potholes.
Incessant honking, no adherence to traffic signals, lack of lane system, roads filled with potholes and a complete lack of civic sense and courtesy for fellow drivers make it incredibly hard to drive in India.
India for sure.
I was born there and lived there for 28 years(but never drove as I could not afford a scooter, motor cycle etc). But, I saw how the traffic has been evolving for the last 50 years and it is crazy.
After doing some thinking, I think it is the way it should be(as long as they are not doing any drastic infra development; which does not seem to affect change). If they tried to impose all traffic rules, then the whole country will come to a halt. For example, when someone comes from a side street onto a main street, he does NOT look to see how the traffic is coming at him on the main street. He BLINDLY just turns.