“Don’t ever drive in the Middle East,” my Palestinian-born father would always tell us growing up. I realized that his words were wise in the mid-nineties during our first family trip to Amman, Jordan’s capital, where I walked away with vivid memories of an endless wave of honks, rides in taxis without doors, chaotic traffic jams, and a pile-up that involved a bus, a car or two, and some flames.
While driving is rather orderly in some parts of the world — there are other places where it can feel a little, well, lawless. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1.24 million people die on the road each year.
Take Jordan, where according to the WHO, 620 road traffic deaths were reported in 2010, which meant a rate of 22.9 deaths for every 100,000 persons. It’s not as bad as, say, the total number of deaths in Egypt (where my father went to college), where 9,608 road traffic deaths were reported in 2010. Though that represented a lower death rate of 13.2 deaths for every 100,000 persons.
Avoiding becoming a statistic means learning a driving style that’s a little different from what you learned in driver’s ed.
In the following clip, a sketch comedy duo shows how hilarious (and bewildering) it is to learn to drive in a place like Amman. An American man, under the guidance of a Jordanian, learns some of the basic rules of driving in Jordan’s capital.
If you’ve ever been to a place where a pack of cigarettes can probably get you out of a traffic ticket, you’ll enjoy this:
(h/t Hadeel Al-Shalchi)