The traffic in Cairo is absolute chaos. With 25 million people in the city trying to get to different places with no apparent traffic rules (at least none that are enforced) you can imagine what the roads look like at any given moment. Angie (our Egyptian guide) told us that there isn't rush hour, but rush day! It's especially bad from 8 am - 3 pm. She told us that you can't drive in a straight line here or you won't go anywhere. There are constantly people weaving in and around other cars. So illogical, but apparently true. Here are few pictures I snapped of the driving we witnessed on the road.
Angie also said that drivers here, "Think that two inches is plenty of room to merge." She's not exaggerating. I was constantly gasping in fear as I watched cars dangerously zip around each other because surely there was no way they could make it without causing an accident, but somehow they always (almost) managed to narrowly avoid a collision. It's almost a talent to drive that badly without getting into a wreck.
In the US, every city complains about what bad drivers they have. In Utah, it was always, "Utah drivers are the worst...nobody knows how to merge or use their blinker." In DC, "Oh my gosh, people drive like such idiots here, always causing accidents, nobody knows how to drive in the snow." Etc. Etc. But it's nothing compared to some foreign cities I've been to (I'm looking at you Rome and Bahrain). But still, nothing has ever compared to Cairo. It's the first time I've ever seen thousands of people simultaneously drive badly at once. And yet, somehow it's okay - there is a system that I obviously don't (and won't ever) understand but it works for them because they all seem to be on the same page of this insanity and manage to get to around just fine.
Animals on the highway? Sure! At almost any given moment we would be cruising down the highway in our giant bus at 55 mph and right next to us there would be a donkey or horse pulling a cart like it ain't no thing.
Carrying awkwardly large loads are also no problem for Egyptians.
Not only are there two men just hanging out on top of the truckload without any sort of seat-belt or safety feature, but the driver isn't even looking at the road.
Lanes? Who needs 'em! On the rare occasion there were white lane lines down the road they were totally disregarded. Or maybe people just thought you were supposed to drive ON the lines, not inside of them? Because in the two pictures below you'll see cars driving on the line - this wasn't just to change lanes, they stayed on the line for as long as I could see them.
I saw very few new cars - the vast majority of cars were old and well worn.
The two pictures below show parents squeezing on a motorcycle with two young children dangerously hanging on. Forget about seat-belts for a moment and let's just at least get these children their own seat at a minimum! It made me so nervous to see how precariously they were all situated on there, especially considering the already dangerous roads they were traveling on.
Sometimes the traffic was so bad that it felt more like a giant parking lot. There was just no movement at all.
Even the police don't seem to be any better at driving. What's with the 45 degree angle turn happening below?
I must say though, that people were very friendly to us for the most part on the roads - we had many Egyptian men wave to us as we drove by. Once, as were driving on the bus, some young boys drove up on motorcycles to my window and waved at me. When I smiled back at them they started fist-pumping. It was pretty cute.
I need to post the video that goes with the picture below. We were on a major freeway and all of a sudden two cars (see white car below) start going in reverse for a prolonged period of time, against all of the other oncoming traffic. It appeared that they made a wrong turn and backed up until they could get onto the right road. While it's completely suicidal, I somewhat understand. The traffic was so bad it probably would have taken them hours to get back to the correct road had they continued with the flow of traffic.
Finally I saw the bad driving catch up to someone when we passed a recent car accident. I'm just shocked it's the only one I saw while we were there.
If you're ever in Egypt I would not suggest renting a car and driving yourself around. Let someone else handle the chaos to not only ensure your safety, but also so that you can witness all the funny things happening around you :)