The Unspoken Rules of Cairo Traffic

I’ve always wondered how one would explain the unspoken rules of Cairo traffic to a non-Egyptian trying to learn how to drive on the roads of our everyday craziness. Egyptians drive for years in Cairo and eventually get a feel for what must be done in order to arrive safely at our destination in the shortest possible time with minimal scrapes and dents to our cars and minimal loss of life. It’s not an easy feat. But we eventually get there.

My British khawaga husband Colin is spending a full month in Cairo for the first time. We both decided it would be good for him to learn how to drive here. In the process, I’ve discovered that itis possible to put our unspoken rules into words that are inevitably shouted out. I thought it would be useful to share my all-encompassing wisdom on Cairo traffic with a larger audience so I jotted the rules down.

Colin has an odd tendency to drive in one lane and to stay in it. He’s a khawaga. What can I say? His natural inclination is to keep driving at the same speed as long as he believes he has the right of way. With my eyes rolling, I have had to teach him rules number 1 through 3.

RULE #1:

The concept of “right of way” is practically unknown in Egypt. If you drive on our roads using this concept you are likely to kill at least a dozen people before you reach your destination. We do have our own local version of right of way though. Larger vehicles have right of way over smaller vehicles. Pedestrians already walking across the street, despite the fact that they look like they are on a suicide mission, have the right of way. Cars that beat you by filling the gap in traffic you’re aiming for with the front of their car have the right of way.

RULE #2:

ALL LANES ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL. There is a reason why one lane is moving particularly slowly. Do not feel loyal to your lane. If you do, you are an idiot. Get yourself into the moving lane no matter what it takes.

This post was originally written for CairoScene’s The Scenario. Find out the rest of my unspoken rules of Cairo driving here http://cairoscene.com/scenario/?p=3429

 

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