Ilivetolearn's Blog

November 19, 2005

more about traffic

Filed under: on the road,Spain — ilivetolearn @ 7:26 am

Road rage doesn’t seem to exist here…despite the enormous delays caused by ubiquitous construction projects, I have only encountered polite drivers who let each other make turns in difficult spots. “Alternate merge” is a concept the Spaniards get without being told to do it, which is good because how would you depict that on a sign with just red, blue, and geometric shapes? Even my confusion at intersections where I am faced by a red light, a green light, and a flashing yellow light, all aimed in my direction, has not elicited beeping from any other motorists. Yesterday I missed a yield sign (cleverly hidden behind a crosswalk sign and a large tree branch) and almost collided with a bus-again, no honking, no shouting, and no one flipped me the bird.

The sequence of lights does take some getting used to…it doesn’t go red, green, yellow, red at the busiest intersections. After the red comes a pattern of two yellows alternating, which Bill explained means something like “Proceed at your own risk…of death.” It’s not clear who has the right of way, but everybody proceeds slowly and usually no one gets hurt. We’ve only seen one or two accidents-one scary one involving a teenager on a motorbike who was badly injured (there goes Evan’s hope for motorized transport).

Spain has been known in the recent past for huge numbers of traffic fatalities and they are taking steps to remedy that; lots of traffic-calming devices in heavily-populated areas, strict laws about what to do in case of engine trouble. You are required to carry two day-glo safety vests in your vehicle, and everyone, but everyone, wears them if they are stopped by the side of the road. Many people even keep them draped over the front seats of the car at all times. You also have to have flares and cones, and (here’s where we are in violation) a spare pair of glasses in your car.

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