Depending on the local culture and the people, driving a car at your holiday destination can be a challenge.
The difficult part isn’t the official traffic rules.
They are very similar all over the world where traffic lights exist. Some exceptions are countries with steering wheels on the opposite side and where you get the subjective feeling of being a ghost driver. But in general, the rules are the same everywhere.
The challenge is the folks behind the steering wheel
In every part of the world, people drive cars in different ways than you are used to. It seems to be a logical thing; you also get different food on other parts of this planet.
Have you ever driven a car in Paris or Rome?
If you survived that, you might think you’ve had the best training to be a confident driver everywhere in the world. (Maybe besides Bangladesh.)
Even more in Gran Canaria, because it’s a tiny island with a couple of streets, motorways and boring speed limits. Everybody is relaxed and happy, which makes driving on the island a heavenly experience.
That’s what I seriously thought. But reality shows I’m wrong. And so are you.
Driving a car in Gran Canaria is…well…special
I’ve felt at home here for a couple of years, and I love the island and its folks, in good and in bad times.
But if there was a Nobel Prize for the Worst Car Drivers in Europe, the Canarios would be the winners.
Every day when I bring my son to the kindergarten, or when I pick him up in the afternoon, I get in dangerous situations with brainless car drivers. And the voice inside my ear whispers, “Kill it before it lays eggs.”
To be fair, not everybody drives around the island like Fernando Alonso.
But those who do make driving a car in Gran Canaria a dangerous adventure. And we have plenty of zombies with cars on the island.
But who are we to tell the locals how to drive a car?
As guiris, we are the guests here and have to adapt ourselves to the local culture, right? No matter whether you’re a tourist, or you’ve moved to Gran Canaria, it’s you who has to change.
So, instead of grumbling about their driving style in their own home, we should learn how to drive like a local. Or take the bus.
It’s as simple as that.
See it as part of your integration process to show respect to the local culture.
Don’t worry, driving like a local isn’t a hard task. You either need to amputate your brain, or stick to the rules below.
Fasten your seatbelt. Let’s
As a little warm-up, watch this video:
5 lessons to adapt to the Canarian driving style
Meaning of colors:
Red = What YOU think is right
Green = What the LOCALS think is right
Rule #1: Forget about the security distance.
Only sissies think about keeping a safe distance while driving.
You’re not a sissy, right? Make sure you’re so close the car in front of you that you can see the inside of the driver’s nostrils through his rearview mirror.
The same thing when you pass a car…
…and on serpentines, where you can’t see what’s behind the curve.
Rule #2: Only losers use the brakes.
It’s fine to pass cars in front of a crosswalk when pedestrians still haven’t reached the middle of the street.
On roundabouts, just keep going like all cool people do. (Don’t forget to let your left arm hang out of the window like you’re picking something up from the street.
Rule #3: Don’t care about those silly white stripes on the streets.
Rule #4: Never let other cars pass.
Because being nice has nothing to do with driving a car in Gran Canaria.
Stop and go inside the city, and someone in the parking lane sets the indicator to merge into traffic? Set your car in the correct position so he can’t escape. (Why did he park there anyway?)
The same rule applies on the motorway’s on-ramps. Let the car who wants to merge into traffic stop on the on-ramp.
Normally they have to speed up, but that’s nothing you should care about. There’s no alternative. Remember Rule #2? You don’t have brakes. And the system of letting people filter in does not exist here.
Rule #5: Blame others when you almost provoke an accident.
Here’s how to do it: As you are a master of Rule #1, of course you hate it when the car in front of you needs to brake because of something that happens in front of him.
Step 1: Follow Rule #2 (remember not to use your brakes), set your car next to that car, pretend to ram it and give the driver an evil look (or the finger…whatever you feel comfortable with).
Step 2: Now set your car in front of him or her and thwart him. Preferably on a motorway at a speed of 80km/h (50 mph).
You’re ready to drive on Gran Canarian streets.
Those were the most important facts so far. With these rules in mind, you will for sure have a great time on Gran Canaria’s streets.
Hope you enjoyed the lessons.
And…just in case you smiled (at least a bit) while reading the post: Nope, the above-mentioned situations are not exceptions. They happen every day.
Stay safe and watch out for the zombies.