Driving in Ecuador: A Lesson in Personal Responsibility

One only has to travel outside the western world to realize how our sense of personal responsibility or even sense of survival has been slowly deteriorating.  Each day more and more laws are put in place to protect us from ourselves and in effect cause a gradual lose of self preservation.

All you need do is go for a drive.

The Overseas Security Advisory Council Describes Ecuador ..“Driving practices differ from U.S. standards, and drivers often disobey traffic laws and signals. In all areas, buses stop without warning to pick up or drop off passengers. Drivers often turn right and left from any lane and rarely yield to pedestrians and cyclists. You may encounter intoxicated drivers at any time, though the chances of a drunk-driving accident are higher on weekends and Ecuadorian holidays. On the coast in particular, many vehicles are poorly maintained, and breakdowns are common. “

After reading such a passage, you would think the streets of Quito are littered with bodies and car parts.  Not at all, very much the opposite.  Exposure to such ‘conditions’ have sharpened the skills of drivers and pedestrians alike.  Drivers are on all on the same wave length.  While their behaviour seems chaotic and dangerous, accidents were rare. Contrast this with a day spent in Moncton New Brunswick, where 3 accidents were witnessed in one day!  All, I would guess, by drivers off in ‘la la’ land or, god for bid, texting.

The same can be said for the find pedestrians of Ecuador.  No one is walking, head down texting, down any street in Quito, falling in manholes and fountains. Nor will you see pedestrians blindly crossing on a walking signal, without looking, simply because the light indicates “walk”.  For too often you will see Canadian pedestrians simply step out, because they have been conditioned to assume the rules give them protection, with complete neglect for common sense.

Hop in cab a downtown Quito [Ecuador] and enjoy the ride.

Whizzing in and out of traffic, , you may be concerned for your life.  When will this coaster ride abruptly end upon t-boning a hatchback?  But fear not, what may seem like a group of terrible drivers turns out to be what happens when everyone is in the same frame of mind..  Simply put, they are paying attention to what they are doing, while doing it a very aggressive manner.

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