Notes from Lapta, Cyprus – “Rules of Engagement” by Ken Dunn

For anyone newly arrived in the TRNC the everyday transportational needs can be seen as singularly ‘Cypriot’. In order to cope, if not survive, with this particular and ‘creative’ travelling environment there are certain techniques which should be adopted whenever anyone needs to drive around. I have studied these techniques over the years, which seem to be compulsory, and I offer you here my findings which I’m sure will more than just enhance your satisfaction and enjoyment while driving around. They are all highly recommended and you will blend into the everyday joy of driving in this remarkable country

  1. When you are about to use your vehicle always wait before opening the door until another vehicle arrives and is about to pass. This ensures a basic reaction test to that other driver to find the footbrake and horn.
  2. Check all the tires to make sure at least one is slightly soft and may be a slow puncture thereby needing the car to be jacked up and the wheel changed later on, with luck, in the middle of some heavy traffic.
  3. On settling down behind the wheel do not bother with the seatbelt. This will interfere with personal movement.
  4. Make sure that there is something dangling from the rear view mirror. This will enhance concentration especially if you cannot see beyond it.
  5. Adjust the rear view mirror to provide a good view to check your hair/make-up at all times
  6. Switch on your mobile phone and have it ready for use, either to answer a call or make one at any time during your journey. You should make at least three calls and maybe dispatch a couple of text messages while driving.
  7. Make sure you have a recent newspaper with you so you can check the weather forecast as you drive along.
  8. Early morning journeys require an initial process. After switching on the engine rev it up as loudly as possible for a few minutes. This will ensure the vehicle is fully operational and prevent your neighbours from over sleeping. They will be very grateful for that.
  9. Pull onto the middle of the road but then get out and clean all the windows. This may prevent a few others from getting passed you but they will be glad to see you care about clean windows.
  10. Accelerate as quickly as possible from a standing start. This is important to ensure the vehicle is working properly.
  11. Place the vehicle in the middle of the road at all times so that you will be able to veer to the left or right to evade other traffic.
  12.  On tight corners always endeavour to drive on the other side of the road, particularly along narrow sections, and as quickly as possible, to allow plenty of room to avoid a head on collision.
  13. An acquaintance/friend/neighbour coming in the opposite direction gives an excellent opportunity for both of you to stop and have a chat about anything. Blocking the road for other drivers is a minor difficulty and should not create much irritation. Many lasting relationships have been made in this way.
  14. On the narrow village roads always try to stop at a shop or a friends house for a while. This will ensure you will probably block the road but you will meet many other drivers you have not met before.
  15. There will be many situations where other vehicles can be overtaken on the inside as they will probably be driving slowly in the middle of the road allowing more space for this useful technique.
  16. Always try to overtake in a conventional manner, on the right, especially as a left hand bend approaches or the left hand turn you want to make can be seen directly ahead of the vehicle in front.
  17. There are only two kinds of acceptable speed. Very slowly, 20 miles per hour or less, to allow the appreciation of the many sights to be seen, or as fast as possible to prevent other vehicles getting there first.
  18. Throw any rubbish you may have in the car out of the window as frequently as possible. You may need to collect some before beginning your journey.
  19. If a smoker, flick a depleted fag-end out of the car, repeating this regularly during your journey, especially during the summer months.
  20. During the day switch on as many lamps as you have on the vehicle, especially fog lights. Hazard warning lights are optional. More lights can always be added if you only have a pair of headlights.
  21. The regular use of the horn should be used at all times and at every opportunity or just for the hell of it.
  22. Always endeavour to have as many people/family with you in the vehicle to make the journey worthwhile. In a four seater vehicle it’s recommended to have at least six members of the family or friends. Animals are just as welcome in these situations.
  23. Turn on the radio or CD and increase the volume, winding all the windows of the vehicle down, so that other road users can be entertained as you drive with them.
  24. While driving along only use one hand somewhere on the steering wheel and ensure the other hand and arm is hanging out of the open window, thus ‘cooling’ the arm. The occasional gesticulation with this arm can be useful for other drivers to see you are completely at ease.
  25. Indicate left or right occasionally to make sure the indicators are working. Do not bother to use them when actually turning left or right. This will only reduce the life of the bulbs.
  26. Brake heavily when turning left or right, to ensure you do not overshoot the turning point, and then accelerate hard in whichever direction you decide to take.
  27. Moving from a minor road to a main road, especially having to cross traffic from the right, accelerate across an oncoming vehicle. This will ensure another test of that driver’s reactions and the efficiency of his brakes.
  28. When on a main road or dual-carriageway, drive as fast as possible and undertake or overtake as often as possible. Overtaking an overtaking vehicle will also add interest to the journey.
  29. Try to overtake scooters or motorbikes without pulling over. They much prefer the rough edge just off the road itself.
  30. This is particularly useful to them when there is someone sitting ‘side-saddle’ on the back. Even more appreciative are the folk on small mopeds carrying bunches of vegetables. It gives them a chance to re-stack the bundles which may have come adrift as you overtook them.
  31. When seeing a red, amber and green triple light on the road side appreciate the pretty colours but do not take too much notice of them. They are only there to make the journey more interesting. The ones which flash at major crossing points are just as jolly.
  32. Numbers on the roadside, 50, 65 and so on are there to tell you to drive much faster than that.
  33. All other road signs you may see are really only there to entertain you on your journey and should not be taken too seriously.
  34. As you drive along try to close the gap between you and the car in front to a few feet, especially at high speed. This shows that you care about them and are being very friendly.
  35. When traffic has come to a stop on a roundabout try driving the other way round it. This can be quite fun and add to the pleasure of your journey. You will also meet a few more people you haven’t met before.
  36. If you’re in town and come across a ‘no entry’ sign don’t take too much notice of that. Rather than drive a much longer way to get round these signs it’s so much easier to drive on as there probably won’t be much coming towards you.
  37. Signs with ‘no parking’ just mean, ‘not for too long’ so feel free and park anywhere, especially next to these signs.
  38. When needing to park do not give any indication of what you are doing but simply stop anywhere. All other drivers do exactly that and so it is only polite to do the same.
  39. Try to park across an entrance or exit as this will ensure other drivers will save fuel, being unable to use their vehicles, while you go shopping.
  40. If you go to a supermarket park across two or three spaces to ensure the shop does not have too many customers thereby preventing slowing your own shopping time down.
  41. If driving a manually geared vehicle in slow moving traffic an occasional stall is a useful technique to prevent other vehicles getting in front of you. If driving an automatic, let the vehicle creep forward to connect with the rear of the vehicle in front to remind that driver to get a move on.
  42. When on a straight road there will be the opportunity to read that article in the newspaper you may not have finished earlier.
  43. Pedestrians can be very understanding and friendly, usually walking in front of you or suddenly crossing the road as you drive along to make sure your brakes are working.
  44. Any pedestrian who has not seen you about to drive over them needs a long, friendly blast on the horn, just to say, ‘Hello!’ They love it!
  45. Taxis are jolly road companions so take every care to slow down to a crawl as they come up behind you, especially in heavy two-way traffic. They will appreciate the relaxing low trundling along instead of the break-neck speed they are usually obliged to maintain.
  46. The many Dolmuş (people’s taxi) can be fun driving companions. Drive as close to them as you can and then give a friendly, long blast on the horn as you overtake. The driver will give you a friendly ‘wave’ as you speed away.
  47. Stationary Dolmuş are fond of pulling out in front of anyone driving along. Don’t get annoyed. They’re very safety conscious and are only making sure your brakes and horn are working properly.
  48. If you need to ‘top-up’ with fuel always drive into the petrol station the wrong way. It’s usually clear of vehicles even if some then try to drive out.
  49. If that soft tyre does give you a flat then try to stop at a very busy traffic point so as much disruption as possible will be achieved. All the other motorists will thank you for giving them an opportunity to relax while you change the wheel.
  50. When you return home make sure the vehicle is as ready as it was when you left earlier to ensure another pleasant driving day ahead.

So, there we are. A valuable list of ‘the Rules of the Road’, Cypriot style. I’m sure you’ll enjoy applying every one of them and don’t worry too much about the smashed headlamps, crumpled bodywork, missing wing mirrors or that battered back end. They are all obligatory requirements for the daily driving routine in the TRNC. Providing the car is still drivable they can act as a deterrent to other drivers. So enjoy because, hey! Izz Zypruzz!!

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