Driving

For discussion, news, comments, questions and information about Crete & Greece.
Mixos
Posts: 512
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2012 8:26 am
Location: North East Crete or S.W.England

Re: Driving

Postby Mixos » Sun Sep 15, 2019 6:57 pm

Yes, Tim's right about the roundabout in Sitia which, after about six? years since it was built, can still be a frightening place for the unwary. Most of the locals have now learnt how to use it, but there are still a few old boys in pick-ups who drive on to it without looking left or reducing speed. But that's part of the joy of driving in Crete -- always assume you might get T-boned at a junction or roundabout and drive defensively. That was the advice I gave my daughter when she first visited, Elena, and it still holds good as a general rule.

Kilkis
Posts: 12526
Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2007 3:58 pm
Location: Near Chania

Re: Driving

Postby Kilkis » Sun Sep 15, 2019 7:26 pm

The advice my father gave me when I passed my test, over 50 years ago, was: 1 "You have just been given a licence to kill, don't use it" and 2 "When driving, assume that every other driver on the road is trying to kill you". I think it is still good advice today.

Warwick

Tim
Posts: 673
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2012 1:41 pm
Location: Near Sitia
Contact:

Re: Driving

Postby Tim » Sun Sep 15, 2019 7:41 pm

My father said something similar 45 years ago: 'Always assume every other driver on the road is an idiot'. Good advice, as it turned out he was right.

Tim

Guy M
Posts: 519
Joined: Fri Mar 15, 2013 9:20 pm
Location: Kalamitsi Alexandrou

Re: Driving

Postby Guy M » Sun Sep 15, 2019 8:18 pm

Tim wrote:My father said something similar 45 years ago: 'Always assume every other driver on the road is an idiot'. Good advice, as it turned out he was right.

Tim


Those were the exact words my father used. Unfortunately he forgot to add “and you’re an idiot too”. After 4 weeks in a coma, 2 months in a wheelchair, 4 months on crutches and 1 year off work following a collision with a bus ten years ago, I think I know that now.

louisejersey
Posts: 180
Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:41 pm
Location: Jersey/ Neapoli Crete

Re: Driving

Postby louisejersey » Mon Sep 16, 2019 5:43 am

Hi, I started driving in Crete in my early 60's too. As everyone says, you will bash your arm on the door a lot to begin with, but my advice is just to go slowly, stick to the side of the road, and let everyone else do what they want.
I also made my husband come with me several times on the routes I used most often, so that I know exactly what to do at each junction etc.
You will be fine, :)

Maud
Posts: 781
Joined: Thu Mar 07, 2013 10:46 pm
Location: S.W. England/ S.W. Crete.

Re: Driving

Postby Maud » Mon Sep 16, 2019 8:42 am

I think it was seven years last May that the roundabout appeared in Sitia Mixos, so you are not far out with your guess. I only know as we drove there in a friend’s car from the south coast to have a few days holiday in the East. I had not driven the car previously and has taken over the driving after a lunch stop in Elounda.

My excuse is that I that I am sure the car had a ‘sensitive clutch’ but as I drove in to Sitia I was confronted with an unexpected roundabout! All the other drivers looked as confused as me, so taking the initiative I drove on to it and stalled! By now I was getting a lot of ‘helpful ‘ advice from the passenger seat! The nice thing was that nobody sounded a car horn or looked cross. In fact everyone was laughing....with me rather than at me I felt!

I hope this story encourages you to get to grips with the driving soon Elena. Louise is correct. - Take your time. As for having your husband or someone else with you, I will leave that to you!!!

Kilkis
Posts: 12526
Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2007 3:58 pm
Location: Near Chania

Re: Driving

Postby Kilkis » Mon Sep 16, 2019 8:49 am

Personally I would not stick to the side of the road. The golden rule is to own the carriageway, i.e. drive down the centre of your lane. If you see someone behind you who obviously wants to pass then certainly pull over but then return to the centre. If you are in the centre you have more chance of having somewhere to go when somebody does something stupid. If you are close to the edge you don't. You also need to pull out less when somebody pulls out too far from a junction.

Warwick

johnincrete
Posts: 925
Joined: Thu Feb 18, 2010 4:04 pm
Location: Chania

Re: Driving

Postby johnincrete » Mon Sep 16, 2019 12:09 pm

There are rules and there are Greek drivers - two different things! I remember the advice I got when I first came to Crete: "don't use indicators because it only confuses the Greeks".
The best advice I can give is to expect the unexpected! fF the car in front indicates right (or left) don't assume he/she will turn right (or left) - just hang back until the action is in progress. Hazard warning lights usually mean the car in front is going to park by going beyond the space and reversing in: just stop, give him/her room and be patient even if the fool behind is sounding his (never her) horn. Or of course, full hazards may mean they have just been left on and the driver has his/her mind on something else or is playing music so loud the warning beeps cannot be heard or is holding a phone.

There are many roads in Chania where many other roads cross them. The road signs will tell you if you need to stop and being a good UK driver you will - but don't assume a Greek driver will!! And, of course, any road laws appear not to apply to motorcyclists! My advice is if you are on the major road and all motorists on the crossroads must give way, don't assume they will but approach the crossroad with caution. Similarly, if a sign says you can't turn right (or left) don't assume traffic will only come from the right (or left) but look BOTH ways.

I was taught many years ago in the UK that, if you stop at traffic lights, apply the handbrake and put the gears into neutral and I still do just that. True, it preserves the clutch but it means that it takes a few seconds to get into gear before moving off and that gives the idiot driver or motorcyclist who is failing to beat the red, room to pass by. And ignore the idiots who are riding the clutch with one hand on the horn to "scream" as soon as the light goes to green. And pray for the motorcyclists who overtake the queue to stop right in front of you.

Driving in Crete, despite the idiots, is definitely easier than driving in the UK and is safer because, except on the National Road, speeds are slower and collisions usually just cause bodywork damage. Just be patient; don't be in a hurry, don't assume the one in front will do the logical thing and you will be just fine. But try to avoid driving when people are going to work or coming from work and, of course, avoid midnight to about 3.00 am when drunks are driving home.

When you can, give way to someone trying to enter from a side road and give them a big smile and a wave. They may well not thank you but you will feel better! As a general rule, I give way to taxis and any van - people who are working. Sheer bloody-mindedness causes me never to give way to drivers of big shiny cars, particularly those of German manufacture! As an elderly grandfather, getting a smile from a pretty girl (any lady under 60) makes my day when I give way!

bobscott
Posts: 2872
Joined: Wed Aug 05, 2009 5:36 pm
Location: Kokkino Horio

Re: Driving

Postby bobscott » Mon Sep 16, 2019 1:17 pm

Kilkis wrote:The main thing, Bob, is that signposts trump any general rules wherever you are driving in the world. In the three cases you mention I think it is signposted who has to stop/give way.

Warwick


Yes, that's true Warwick. There are still some local drivers who can't see the signs though!! Bob. :D
Yesterday today was tomorrow. Don't dilly dally!

Kilkis
Posts: 12526
Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2007 3:58 pm
Location: Near Chania

Re: Driving

Postby Kilkis » Mon Sep 16, 2019 1:54 pm

johnincrete wrote:...And ignore the idiots who are riding the clutch with one hand on the horn to "scream" as soon as the light goes to green...


I wouldn't assume that someone using their horn very briefly when the lights turn green is an indication of impatience in Crete. For some reason that I can never fathom the first driver to arrive at a red light will pull well past it so that he can't really see it. The driver behind, who can see it, sounds his horn briefly as a courtesy to let the front drive know they have changed. Obviously a sustained blast is probably impatience.

To be fair, Bob, all the signs are in English and not all Greeks can speak English?

Warwick

GlennB
Posts: 197
Joined: Thu May 04, 2017 9:38 pm
Location: Arkadia, Peloponnese

Re: Driving

Postby GlennB » Mon Sep 16, 2019 3:10 pm

Kilkis wrote:
johnincrete wrote:...And ignore the idiots who are riding the clutch with one hand on the horn to "scream" as soon as the light goes to green...


I wouldn't assume that someone using their horn very briefly when the lights turn green is an indication of impatience in Crete. For some reason that I can never fathom the first driver to arrive at a red light will pull well past it so that he can't really see it. The driver behind, who can see it, sounds his horn briefly as a courtesy to let the front drive know they have changed. Obviously a sustained blast is probably impatience.

To be fair, Bob, all the signs are in English and not all Greeks can speak English?

Warwick


It happens to me, and my impression is that the lights are set too close to the stop line. In addition, round here anyway, there is no light the other side of the junction. You either stop well back from the line or open a window, lean out and look up at that one light.

Kilkis
Posts: 12526
Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2007 3:58 pm
Location: Near Chania

Re: Driving

Postby Kilkis » Mon Sep 16, 2019 4:32 pm

I stop well back from the line so I can see the light without any strain. It means that I can engage gear and move forward before the "well past the light" driver even knows they have changed. Every time I am sat in one of two lanes I am typically across the junction before the front driver in the other lane has even moved. I don't gun it off the line to try to beat them but just pull away normally. Pulling too far forward is a stupid technique but virtually every Greek driver I have ever seen does it.

Warwick

Maud
Posts: 781
Joined: Thu Mar 07, 2013 10:46 pm
Location: S.W. England/ S.W. Crete.

Re: Driving

Postby Maud » Mon Sep 16, 2019 10:29 pm

Reading most of this could be off putting Elena. It is much easier driving on Crete than in the U.K. - Just take your time and don’t think that everyone blowing a horn at you is angry with you. As Warwick mentioned, if you are on the National Road, stick to your own lane, and just pull over to the side if someone wants to pass you. There was a time when people used to beep their horn to let you know they were there. That seems to happen less these days.......or maybe I drive faster and do the overtaking!

The best thing you can do is get behind the wheel when the roads are quiet and drive a route you are familiar with. - The rest will make sense once you have done that a few times.

Kookla
Posts: 157
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2016 4:24 pm

Re: Driving

Postby Kookla » Tue Sep 17, 2019 9:01 am

All sound advice above. My two penny worth, when I leant to drive from my father, 'expect the unexpected!' Oh so true here.

Guy M
Posts: 519
Joined: Fri Mar 15, 2013 9:20 pm
Location: Kalamitsi Alexandrou

Re: Driving

Postby Guy M » Tue Sep 17, 2019 4:29 pm

It’s not so bad in Crete - I cycle here and it’s much less scary than in the UK, provides you avoid the highway. The mountains are another matter...


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