29 June 2006

Driving in Tbilisi

The Georgians say, you should wear that hat, that wear the people of the country you are going to live in. So after 10 years I changed my German driving into a Georgian driving, almost. A typical Georgian man is very relaxed and easy going, but that changes into the full opposite, when he is getting on the seat of his car. I am every day shouting and screaming, full stressed, into the ears of my co-drivers, with the excuse that I shout the same in Germany on German drivers, but still... I also must confess, that in my eyes the average driving of the Tbilisians improved a bit in the last 1 or 2 years, due to more Western cars (better breaks) and due to some more logical traffic management, wich is just in the beginning of development by the authorities as I know.

What I hate on driving in Tbilisi comes here, feel free to comment, if I am wrong, or if you have other experiences.

1. The ability or will to Foresight seems to be rather undeveloped. Typical is to speed up in a difficult and very possible dangerous traffic situation by speed of 90+ and use the breaks in the last possible moment.

2. Backwards driving for 100s of meters unaware of the possible conflicts provoking of the following traffic.

3. Overtaking other cars on the opposite lane is a must for every Tbilisian. But even cooler is to barricade the whole opposite traffic for my little advantage in front of the stoplight.

4. Most Tbilisians rather risk the life of their children, than protecting them with the seat belt.

5. Pedestrians are slow and weak, are uncool and crap and can be ignored. They should watch their steps.

6. Its cool to hit as many straydogs as possible.

7. Marshrutka-Drivers have always priority.

8. Defensive driving is for cowards, lets drive with a clumsy aggressive fun.

9. Red stoplights may sometimes be ingnored, depending on the drivers mood.

10. Arguments with other drivers are best solved in open boxing fights in the middle lane of the left embankment of river Mtkvari.

11. I teach my wife all the efforts of my aggressive driving experiences.

12. Driving teachers give their pupils the worst cars available (38-years old Shigulis from the first production cycle in 1968 are best), for that they feel how cool will be a 200 PS BMW in the future.

13. Never teach the use of the mirrors to the pupil, because not every car has mirrors, neither they are too important.

Relax Tbilisians ! Don't crash your expensive car ! Do not kill innocent others! Take your foot away from full gas ! Be a little more polite to the others !


Anonymous said...

Hans, as much as you claim that "average driving of the Tbilisians improved a bit in the last 1 or 2 years... due to some more logical traffic management", I have to disagree. Or at least say that Tbilisi is far from the logical traffic management. My american girlfriend noted a few weeks ago that after being in Tbilisi for 2 months she has not seen a single stop sign. You know, those octagonal red signs that ask people to stop. They joke in the US that STOP should be changed with SLOW and it would then reflect reality. But, in Goeorgia, the only stop signs we have seen were on the military highway going towards Dusheti. Little roads that join the highway have them.

And, number 3 is one of my favourites, that's what I see from my window almost on daily basis.

- Vova

Hans said...

Anyway, I do not like stop signs also very much, even if you as a "foreigner" start to stop at the few countrywide available stop signs, that may cause the crash of the following car hitting you in the back...

To drive safe one can say, you need to drive as crazy as the other Tbilisians ;-O

rolandmex said...

My experience in October 1994 was the following:
when crossing the pedestrian overway at Rustaveli Prospekt, I had to watch out for cars. If there was one in sight, the motto was: run for your life!
They sped up when they saw you crossing the street.
Actually, I felt like prey. ;-)

P.S. I still tell this story when asked where people drive worse (I've been to many parts in Europe (e.g. Italy, France, Spain, Romania) and America (e.g. Peru - I live in Mexico)), but to me drivers have been never as dangerous for foot passengers than in Tbilisi (in 1994)!

Hans said...

Roland, you are so right.It's one of my strongest warnings to my guests: NEVER cross the Rustaveli as a pedestrian but use one of the few tunnels instead. Great, that you survived in 1994 !

carpetblogger said...

You can apply every single one of those rules in Baku. I actually thought Tbilisi to be a little tamer, driving-wise, than Baku.

pfn said...

Oh, you are so write about Georgian driving. When I first came over a year ago, I thought drivers weaved around just to avoid the potholes. But then after they repaved the roads...they STILL weaved around, so I thought this was because there were no lines marking the lanes. Now they have newly painted lines...and they STILL weave around!
My favorite tricks are those who stop at the red lights....just not at the first one they meet...at the next one...y'know, on the other side of the intersection! And then there are the geniuses who have a green light, enter the intersection, turn to the right and see a red light....and stop there in the middle of the intersection! I shout at them "that one's not for you!" but to no avail.
Finally I came to understand that half the drivers know the rules and choose to ignore them and the other half just don't know them at all!

Writer'n said...

Hello, Hans! Thanks for your comment on my blog.

Driving in Tbilisi is hazardous. It was two years ago, and still is. I think it has even gotten wors because the streets have fewer holes and trafic is faster. But I feel even wors as a pedestrian: Applying western rules when crossing the street is plain suicidal. The drivers aim at you, and shout obscenities when you stretch out your arms, signalling "take it easy".

But what is really horrible is to drive out of Tbilisi. The mainroad to Kutaisi is like walking a minefield blindfolded. I have NEVER seen such driving. In Norway police publish their "worst videos" from traffic surveilance cameras and patrolcars...heheh but none of those videos even resembles the driving in Georgia. Not even CLOSE! Anyway. I ask the question: Why do Georgians leave the brain at home when they are driving? I had a drivingteacher once in Tbilisi. You can read about my lessons and his tutorials at my website. www.writern.no/georgia.html
( forgive me advertising, but it is easier than filling up the blog)

I will follow your blog, Hans!
Best wishes