The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: road-rage in Ukraine

Lawlessness and anarchy is reining on Ukrainian roads; blood – boiling stunts performed by taxi drivers in pursuit of cash; the common motto: “Where is traffic police?” and as a solution – prevailing rule-of-fist-traffic-justice on the road; and here the plot trio: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

….Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, 24 July 2016. On my call taxi driver arrived; his Daewoo Lanos car equipped with taxi – sign and GPS navigator, where address of my down-town home is marked as a route destination.

While driving me, the taxi driver volunteered extremely dangerous maneuver, that is perpendicular crossing of 6 (six) – line road (two by three lines in opposite directions each) with intensive high-speed traffic. The taxi driver surprised me with wrong turn up on the bridge. I realized too late, that he is going to take forbidden crossing of the road, instead of driving down the bridge and then turn to the left (to loop of the road interchange). I missed my opportunity to jump out of the car, so I was calculating the risks between shouting “Stop, you Idiot!!!” and letting him to end restricted crossing in undisturbed condition.

With bad luck, the taxi might be crushed by cars  in full speed from one of two opposite directions, or both. Afterwhile I thought how to speak him up without making him upset – we were still on the way, it left a kilometer to drive, so I said nothing. Next moment when the taxi suddenly stopped in front of the traffic post with red light on, waiting for green one, I asked him: “Why did you risk like that?” He replied: “I cut 300 meters on cloverleaf interchange“. I continued: “Why then you chose the longest way? It is 700 m longer, than I usually drive home”. He replied: “Because it is faster – this way fewer traffic lights”. My immediate question was: “Why then we stay in front of this traffic light in second line waiting for green, instead of being on the first line and already turning right, because it has green arrow for us and this is our way?“…

” The Ugly!  Driving like mad

in pursuit of a “Confederate gold”.”

So this taxi driver did not choose eligible shortest, nor fastest way. He simply grossly violated traffic rules without any reason at all. If here could be any justification for this Stunt ride. Luckely, approaching my home, car radio plays melody “The Ecstasy of Gold” ….Yes! The Ugly!  Driving like mad in pursuit of a “Confederate gold”.

The road anarchy and rage. I experience serious traffic violations every day in Kiev, in Eastern Europe. Perhaps perpetrators are adepts of a new road religion, according to which some drivers regard traffic lights as expensive and useless road decoration, ignore other cars on the road, tailgating cars in the daylight on a high-way, even if a target car is a smashing -pumpkin special edition Subaru sedan. Road marks are not worth attention whatsoever, and motorcycles are expected to posses helicopter – like abilities in order to jump and disappear from the path of the car driven by the true believer.

So, Spaghetty-Western-men-behaving-badly-mentality? … only if some rule – defying drivers could be women. They say here when female driver violates traffic, “Her man taught her so“. Ok, then. How do they teach driving here?

To obtain a driving license in Ukraine one need to pass state exam for driving skills and traffic rules theory in state road police after graduating driving courses (usually private – run, and it takes 6 (six) months), Presumably the courses are useless for individual who did not learn how to drive in city traffic BEFORE applying for education; plus state exam questionnaire on traffic rules contains some questions that do not correspond with traffic rules amendments made 5 years ago.

That means in order to pass state exam on driving license one should first do city driving with henchmen (friends  – optimistic option), then to rehearse “correct” version of leaked state exam questionnaire. After that it is OK to enter driving school and pass exams, as without proof of driving school graduation the person is not eligible for state examination, and driving school graduation should be finalized by its own driving test and traffic rules theory exam. Here some runaway atmosphere.

Adding to anarchy, plenty of fortune – seeking arrived from the war-torn regions, supplying cheap services of taxi-drivers, ignorant in everything it takes to be taxi driver. I guess, Uglies are simply ignorant of traffic rules and city layout. Oh, and by the way. Taxi drivers in Ukraine are private entrepreneurs, even if they work for big taxi companies. Like in good olden times? Men on mission – accepting “a Contract”, few taxes, even less responsibility?

On top of this, there is less road traffic enforcement these days. Spectacular re-alignment of militia in Ukraine amended status of its road branch, creating the new Road Police (a sheriff). Mass lay-offs of old cadres, brand – new police Priuses, …and lack of authority to control traffic. So instead of blood – thirsty road militia, used to specializing on bribes, it seems like there is ….no-one in road police uniform who is authorized to prevent or stop, or investigate a road accident. To say more, even Law on National Police used to omit the authority to carry out investigations for almost a year (!). In May 2016 respective clause (cl.26 of art 23 of Law # 580 dd. 02.07.2015) was dully introduced.

“Meet the Bad, who knows better,

than Ugly, where the gold is.”

So, driving in Ukraine now is a sport for outlaws. Meanwhile, those who abide the law, longing for when new tough traffic rules are enforced and national road – traffic video-registration system shall start operating (October 2016?). When traffic violators pay and go off roads, we will rise taxi fees, as said another taxi driver. He is not only city-savvy and drives well, but complies with traffic rules – real relic of Ukrainian roads. Meet the Bad, who knows better, than Ugly, where the gold is.

“To survive it the member of public (the Good)

has to know the Law and how to get it applied…”

Not surprisingly, gross violations of traffic rules are not uncommon, as a real street fight between drivers. Street rage rages. To survive it the member of public (the Good) has to know the Law and how to get it applied…

The trio stare each other down.

I think, the Ugly will not last.

I guess, the Bad will have an upper hand.

I do hope, the Good will win and will go into horizon.

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