DRIVING IN AFGHANISTAN |
March 28, 2007
DRIVING IN AFGHANISTAN
Name: Doug Templeton
Posting date: 3/28/07
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Hometown: Kansas City, MO
As near as I can tell, there are no such things as traffic laws here. You are supposed to have a license, but I'm told that with the right bribe you can skip the test and be on your merry way -- and from what I've seen I have no doubt this is true. I am told there is a traffic light in Afghanistan. One. And it doesn't work. I have yet to find a speed limit sign except in the NATO camps. Stop signs? Well, "stop" is regarded as a suggestion, not a requirement. So it's pretty much a free-for-all.
Just getting to work each day is exciting. Everywhere you look there are cars, trucks, horses and carts, and donkeys, all sharing the same semi-paved, pot-hole-riddled, dirty roads. People dart out from side streets and never look. They just stick their nose out and hope it's still there when they complete their turn. The mud has been pretty bad, so the trucks no longer park on the shoulders. They just park on the road, taking up the lane. Since there are usually vehicles on both sides, this only leaves you a small passage to navigate through, while avoiding oncoming traffic doing the same thing. More than once during a near miss the air has been sucked out of our vehicle by a collective gasp. I won't even mention where the seat cushion went.
Then there is the factor of who gets to be designated driver of the day. Some days its a Mario Andretti wannabe, on others it may be someone who reminds you of your grandmother. I won't mention names, but there are some people who, as we leave the gate, make me glad my will has been updated. All this at the same time we are looking for bad guys who are trying to activate that will. Fortunately there have been very few accidents for us, and none of them causing injury to any of our group. Every time I make it through another day without incident I knock on wood. It's easy, as everything in my hooch is made of it.
Being home on leave made for some interesting moments. A couple of times I inspired my wife say, "Don't even think about it." I guess driving on the other side of the road is a problem for her.