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DRIVING IN AFGHANISTAN |

March 28, 2007

DRIVING IN AFGHANISTAN
Name: Doug Templeton
Posting date: 3/28/07
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Hometown: Kansas City, MO
Email: dtempleton14@yahoo.com

Framed_templeton_cart_4As 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.

Framed_templeton_kabul_traffic_5

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.

Framedtempleton_jingle_truck_4

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.

Comments

I worked as a truck driver for awhile in my youth. I loved my truck, and the excitment of steep roads. (Quite boring, I'm sure, by Afghan standards.) Had I seen even one of those beautiful trucks I would have been hopelessly smitten! Not fair! I want a pretty truck, too! People here think a beautiful truck resembles a shiney, planet-eating monster robot. Your trucks look like they are on the way to a garden party. Good luck!

Aaah, driving in Central Asia no matter where is often "challenging." Those jingle truck are fabulous and horrific at the same time. Makes one wonder if they spent the money on the decor or on the brakes!
Enjoy what you can.

We were stationed in Turkey during the 70' and the driving practices were familiar even then. I was convinced I was going to be killed the month before we left. Driving is only for the brave or crazy in that part of the world.

I think it was PJ O'Rourke's book, Holidays in Hell, which contained his account of going to Afghanistan during the Soviet/Afghan war and hiring a driver whose only English phrase was a laughing "Ho, ho, ho, many dead" every time they passed an accident scene on the treacherous mountain roads.

I've lived in quite a few places (non-military) and I can say that Turkey has the worst drivers I've seen -- it was quite common to see someone driving against traffic on the highway, at night, without their lights on, with no one paying the slightest attention to the event. Until they crash.

Now, in China, they have no driving laws, but they are the best drivers I have seen. No one stops, looks, or takes personal security seriously. Yet, it works perfectly since everyone knows that everything is possible and you just go with the flow. At a four lane intersection (or worse, 5 lanes), you can expect mega-trucks, semi's, cars (lotsa cars), bikes, pedestrians, people standing and chatting, and the ubiquitous dogs to be converging willy-nilly. Honk, and it'll all work out.

After 9 months here, I can finally say that I can cross the street without looking right or left, but unlike the Chinese, I'm still nervous about it.

That is really useful! It was the hardest part during my driving road test!

Great I love the monsters truck as a side show, see these huge machines, destroying everything in its path is crossed is great to hear the deafening noise of the engines and see these monsters flying through the air is the maximum excellent blog.

I think that driving in afghanistan is way different then driving in america

Its awesome. You have put cleared picture of Afghanistan in the front of us. Thank you very much !! I think there is lot of poverty in Afghanistan. I lied the truck picture shared by you. I am owner of hundred of trucks and running my business successfully..

Wow i love hear about what live is like for our troops. Nice to read the lighter side of it.

Good information about Sandbox. Thanks for sharing this post about sandbox great to see few more post from you.

.....Alex

Looks like an adventure to drive there. I just hope the car accidents aren't as high here in the states.

The country suffers a lot but these businessmen make huge profits and spend it in Europe and USA.

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