It was without a doubt the fastest driving – legally and faster illegally than I have ever driven before. At times 160kph was the norm.
I have to drive strategically in Qatar as the drivers drive insanely fast and are aggressive. I drive acceptable speeds in the slow lane.
Our drive on the Autobahn 3 from Regensburg to Cologne….I found myself in the fast lane – driving 140kph at a regular pace. 160kmp to move out of the way.
There are two lanes – sometimes three. But mostly two. The inside lane is crowded with eighteen wheelers. The outside lane is for every other vehicle. It is drive fast or join the truckers – getting caught behind and in front of a ginormous truck.
What is civilized is the driving etiquette. Only once did I have an aggressive, impatient woman driver tail-gate me and wave her hands for me to get out of her way at a moment where we had to slow down to pick an intersection. As she drove past me – we looked at each other and glared in an, “How dare you!” look. Qatar is teaching me how to drive! 😉
What I assessed is that what drivers do is plan ahead. See if there is a place to get out of the way of really fast drivers….pull over to the slower lane, let them pass, then move back into the fast lane. If there is not a place to move over, the fast driver sees this, slows down and waits behind you. Then when there is an opportunity to let the car pass, I do….then move back out in the fast lane. Unless of course I’m comfortable driving 160kph at a regular pace. I’m not because we are driving a Skoda…not a Mercedes or BMW.
I will say the driving feels quite safe and civilized here. Not like Qatar where – if you don’t get out of the way – high beams are flashed, dangerous tail gating happens, the driver then swerves out, drives ahead – then purposely cuts you off as they pull in front of you to let you know you’ve pissed them off by not getting out of their way when they demanded it.
These drivers are mostly Qataris and East Indian men. If it is a Qatari I get out of the way because I never know who it is – and if I piss them off I could get thrown out of the country. Very real threat.
If it is an East Indian driver I push back because I can. Unless he is a driver of an SUV. He is either the driver for a Sheikh or high ranking family – then I’m screwed. I’m not being racist – it is the reality of where I live. It is part of the nuances of living in the Middle East. Certain cultures have very specific jobs in Qatar. Simple and not so simple as that.
So I push back only on white Toyota Corollas. These cars are taxis and are very dangerous as they drive to get from one fare to the next.
But basically, I don’t push back at all – I drive in the slow lane….but what I do have is a knowledge to know the difference and push back when I can!
I guess what I’m trying to say is that driving in Qatar has given me the confidence to be able to fit in, not be overwhelmed to drive the Autobahn 3 comfortably!!
So…..Driving today was both exhilarating and an experience to say I’ve done!!