Poles are said to be aggressive drivers May 21, 2011 22:41:23 GMT 1
Post by Bonobo on May 21, 2011 22:41:23 GMT 1
Two years ago, for example, my fiancé Henry took me to visit some friends in Poland. As we were driving in an English car, he relied on me, the passenger, to tell him when it was safe to overtake. Within twenty minutes of crossing the Polish border, I started to say ‘Yes, go now, it’s safe,’ even when there were vehicles coming towards us on a two-lane road.
After he had hastily applied the brakes and aborted a planned overtake at the last minute, he clearly began to have doubts about my judgement. ‘What are you doing? That wasn’t safe at all! Didn’t you see that big lorry?’ ‘Oh yes,’ I replied, ‘but the rules are different here in Poland. There’s obviously a tacit understanding that a wide two-lane road is really three lanes, so if you overtake, the driver in the front and the one coming towards you will move to the side to give you room.’
Henry asked politely how I could possibly be sure of this, given that I had never been to Poland before and had been in the country less than half an hour. My response, that I had been watching the Polish drivers and they all clearly followed this rule, was greeted with perhaps understandable scepticism. Adding ‘Trust me, I’m an anthropologist’ probably didn’t help much either, and it was some time before he could be persuaded to test my theory. When he did, the vehicles duly parted like the Red Sea to create a ‘third lane’ for us, and our Polish host later confirmed that there was indeed a sort of unofficial code of etiquette that required this.
My sense of triumph was somewhat diluted, though, by our host’s sister, who pointed out that her countrymen were also noted for their reckless and dangerous driving. Had I been a bit more observant, it seemed, I might have noticed the crosses, with flowers around the base, dotted along the roadsides – tributes placed by bereaved relatives to mark the spots w at which people had been killed in road accidents.
See the film I made 4 years ago: