You might have noticed the warning sign for camels which are not there for nothing. Driving around in the South, we experienced multiple occasions where camels were panicking and galloping across the highway with as an extra result cars going everywhere. Dangerous, those camels! Image hitting one with your car….
Another kind of cattle that likes to use the road: Goats and sheep. Don’t be surprised when you find them on the middle of high way eating some of the bushes or crossing it.
Traffic in Jordan is great. At least when you’re up for a bumpy ride!
Not only you’ll find a lot of holes in the asphalt, there are speed bumps on the highway. Since you wouldn’t expect them there, it might just happen that you hit them hard, remaining in shock about what just happened.
Tip: the flashing and blinking lights at the side of the road are from shops, trying to stand out from the crowd. Most of the time this is also where the speed bumps are located.
For me, an other issue are the truckers. There are regulations, but no-one seems to stick to it: driving times, on which side of the road they should drive or how much they should weigh. The result is trucks driving plus 100 km an hour going down the hill, or slowly climbing it up. Or just standing still on the highway. And the rule of the biggest counts: they don’t go out of the way for small cars. But seeing a (blond) woman driving might just help a little bit 😉
Tip: If you’re about to drive your rental car or any other vehicle, don’t be shy to blink with your lights or beep the hell out of these truckers.
Well, that record must be held by Jordanians. In the small towns you’re likely to come across cars packed with people and children. Although there are regulations about safety belts, again no-one seems to stick to these! Also don’t be surprised by kids hanging out of the windows, sitting in the trunk of the pick- up or on the lap of the father pretending to drive. Babies are on mothers lap on the front seat. Personally I think these times should be over: families don’t have that much children anymore. Nowadays they would all fit in the seatbelt.
Rush, unless you’re not on the road
Everything goes on Inshallah-mode here. So if you’re sitting with friends or family, there’s always time to drink some tea or coffee. Until you get in the car. Then you need to rush and drive fast to reach your next stop. The theory is still that driving fast buys you time on the short-run…
Parking the car to get some groceries
Or better said: double parking. Especially in our little town of Wadi Musa this is the standard. The center of town is since a couple of years one direction. A big improvement, while the streets were not big enough and the double parking was in two directions. If you need to be at a shop and there’s no free parking space, you’re supposed to park your car just next to the other parked cars. With the consequence that (in some cases) the people driving behind you can not continue their drive, busses with tourists can not pass or the one who did park their car on the right spot can not go out.
Then the shopping goes like this:
“Oh no, there’s no parking space next to the shop. Ah well, then we drive an extra round in town.” This can go up to about 3 times an extra round, until the driver came to the conclusion that a short walk of 50 meters is quicker than driving around all the time. Of course the next time getting some groceries goes exactly the same way..
Yes, welcome to the efficiency of Jordan.
Also during Ramadan the traffic is slightly different compared to the rest of the year. In this time the most accidents happen. People don’t eat or drink all day which causes less attention to fellow traffic users. And around sunset the people rush to their homes to get some food. If you feel like living longer, don’t go on the streets around this time.
Tip: Wait until the sun is down, the streets will be completely empty!
What are the actual rules?
No idea, who comes first goes first. Drive fast but when there’s police around you should drive on a lower speed. My friend and also blogger who lives in town wrote this post about it: Jordanian road rules. The only thing you should say is Bismallah (protect me God). If something happens it must have been the Gods will….
I found a movie, that exactly illustrates what I mean. This guy says this is the proper way to drive in Jordan, and he’s not the only one with this opinion….
So, we (and maybe you) are supposed to be:
- Say Bismallah at the moment you get in the car
- Drive with a speed 10 times faster than you think is suitable
- Watch out for camels and goats
- Watch out for truckers
- Watch out for unexpected speed bumps
- Watch out for holes in the asphalt
- Beep and flash your lights when you want to pass the truckers
- Let your kids hang around in your car
- Don’t use your seatbelt!
A whole lot of things to take care about in traffic in Jordan. Personally I think it’s exhausting, while there are so much factors to take care about or that could go wrong. But I do wear the seatbelt and keep to the speed limit when driving. When sitting in with a real Jordanian (and non-professional) driver, it’s a whole different story.
Please pay attention when you hit the road in Jordan.
Greetings from Petra, Jordan
This post is published in the How we supposed to be… category. How are locals or expats supposed to behave? Learn and be surprised about all the local customs. Click the category in the right menu to read the other post.