After 30 years in the UK Police I thought I had seen just about every bad bit of driving that was on offer…Boy was I wrong!
I have been in Colombia now for 20 months, and I have adapted to Colombian driving, they are not just aggressive, many are just dangerous, and one has to ask, why? Well if you talk to Colombians, many who now have a licence of one sort or another, obtained them by dubious means in days gone by. Things are changing for the better, but there is still a long way to go. People who had no chance of passing their test, gave the Instructors, who also passed them, backhanders, so no test was ever taken. Others used forged licences, that were easy to obtain, then went to the Licensing Centre for an updated one, as long as you paid, the fact that your details were not previously on the system was irrelevant, they were now, and you were legal.
I now battle my way through traffic, and because no one uses indicators, I will give way to no one who doesn\’t use them, occasionally you see a hand waving out of the window, this apparently is a request to let someone into the traffic ahead of you, sorry but until they use indicators, they are stuffed, and anyone who tries to get too close, has to bear the wrath of Marcela, and she doesn\’t hold back, ha!ha!
You do have to wonder why there is not more enforcement on the roads, when only yesterday, in the first real storm this season, there were 141 reported Collisions involving cars, in Medellin alone, and that did not take account, the Collisions involving Motorcycles. Drivers are not taught to adjust their driving for the weather conditions.
Also because in the past corruption was rife, and still is to some extent, Drivers, did not bother to obey the laws of the road, 20,000COP or if you are lucky 10,000 will clear any infringement you may have made, which explains why one-way streets, traffic lights and any other traffic measure, are totally ignored.
I hasten to add, I am a qualified motorcyclist, although I haven\’t risked it here yet, but the standard of Motorcycling is horrendous, a two lane carriageway becomes at least four, and m/cyclists will be the first to shout, if you don\’t allow them space in their imaginary lanes. With a few exceptions they don\’t wear protection, even the helmet, sits on the back of their head with the strap undone, if indeed they have one at all, even though the law states you will wear one, T-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops are the order of the day. Often you will see a minimum of four on a motorcycle, Mum and Dad wearing helmets, their children, nothing! and possibly for good measure someone has the pet dog in their arms. I cringe every time I see this, when I think back to the number of broken bodies I had dealings with in the UK.
So to answer my original question, yes the standard of driving is atrocious, and it will be years before they catch up with everyone who has a dodgy licence. Am I trying to put you off driving here?…not at all, if you can adapt, drive aggressively and yet defensibly, you will survive. I have no doubt that in time, I will be involved in a collision of some sort, but unless you want to live in the City, and solely use Public Transport, you have to give it a go!
Right, now I have got that out of my system, lunchtime today, I had an appointment with my Prostrate Specialist, to view the results of the tests I have had since I last saw him, and he was happy with the results, but wants me to have 6 monthly check-ups, however for now, I have nothing to worry about.