January 2006


Driving in the Ukraine

Ukrainian Pride

Originally uploaded by elmada.

Every so often I have had pause to consider the driving in any of the places I have visited. Mind you that in most of the 21 nations I have visited I have either only taken public transportation, or I have only ridden in cars driven by friends. However, I have had the occasional taxi driver and other forms of transportation in different cities that have exposed me clearly to local driving habits.

Some of you might remember a brief aside I had in my Budapest entry when I noted that the driver of Mateo and my mini-bus from the Budapest Airport to the City Centre broke land speed records—a minor hint to what I thought, at the time, must be the worst driving on the planet.

How wrong I was.

Kyiv has the worst driving I have ever seen in my life. It started with the first taxi ride from the Airport to Katya’s family flat—the driver sped down a pitch black road, which in and of itself wasn’t that bad, except for the fact that 30 centimeters of snow had been melted by steady rain all day, resulting in our hydroplaning much of the way home.

Katya was not un-nerved.

The driver to the airport was excellent, although he passed cars with other cars coming toward us with only the smallest room for error. At one point he made a left turn that left us with traffic coming the opposite direction on both our left and right sides. He also engaged in one of my biggest pet peeves: lane indecision, driving down the highway using two lanes.

Certainly his style of driving on the side streets was much more restrained: trying to speed through the neighborhood would result in a broken axel in only a block or two.

4 comments to Driving in the Ukraine

  • ChrisC

    I’m getting visions of a ride myself and some high school classmates took with one of our teachers to San Francisco. That guy tailgated the car in front of him regardless of if we were going 20 mph or 80 mph.

    I’m also getting flashbacks to the horrible HG Wells time travel movie that was out about 1980 where he took a cab ride in San Francisco.

  • Ed

    Did you see Matt Damon’s ride through Paris in the Bourne Identity? It sounds like you had a similar experience. I saw the Bloomfield sign about noise, Linton has a sign that says no jake braking allowed. I think that is something that semi’s do when in a lot of traffic. There is a sign in the park at Odon, Indiana that reads: Leave Nuts For Squirrels. Believe me I avoided that park completely,lol:) Later, Ed

  • ChrisC

    Ed – Jake braking is using the engine compression to slow the vehicle. In diesel engines it makes an incredible amount of noise. Not very advantageous to use in traffic though.

    Damn squirrels! *shrugs*

  • I missed The Borne Identity after one of my friends said it was really bad…

    Ukrainian Driving is definately something beyond anything in the United States… I imagine that in a decade as roads get better and things align with the EU, driving will become dull, but for now, it’s quite the thrill ride.