Expat Confessional – 3 Ways I Suck At Driving In Serbia

Driving in and around Belgrade is not easy. [Understatement.]

Things simply doesn’t make sense (literally, as in I’m illerate in Cyrillic). It’s New York City-type-driving on steroids. Lanes are more narrow, drivers cut-it-closer, with just the slightest bit of aggression. No, I’m not implying all Serbs are aggressive, I’m still a semi-PC-American, remember? People are skilled, not nasty drivers.

I will never understand the traffic patterns here.

While I do consider myself a competent, safe driver, but please don’t ask my husband his opinion, I will now provide a few examples to elucidate why and how I truly … suck at driving in Serbia.

1. The Protected Green Left-turn Light.

Doesn’t sound so hard, right? It (should) mean I have the right-of-way to make my left turn safely.

Not so.

These lights coincide with green walk signs for pedestrians who are crossing the very intersection through which I’m attempting to drive.

Seriously. It is extremely disconcerting to see grandmas slowly shuffling and I hope to dear god they don’t fall and break a hip crossing these intersections. What I want to know is … Why give me the go-ahead with a protected green light? Why Serbia-traffic-laws, why?

Those sneaky protected green lights mess with my head.

Which brings me to Confession #1: may have slammed my breaks on more than one occasion to keep from flattening a man-in-a-jaunty-white-jacket-who-nearly-lost-his-life, sorry! pedestrian who sprinted into the intersection at the last possible moment.

2. Un-marked lanes, which are actually reserved for … trams. Yes, as in electric trains on the street

Belgrade has electric trams, like those quaint street cars in San Francisco. Here, they sometimes have own dedicated lanes. No big deal, right?

Confession #2: Ummmm, I may have driven in tram lane once or twice. Don’t judge … it was empty, as in tram-free!

These lanes aren’t properly marked (see above, re: Laura’s illiteratacy), so to thestupid American driver and even a casual observer, they are merely unused lanes perfect for getting a leg-up on backed up traffic.

3. Invisible traffic lights

On the subject of unmarked-things-you-need-to-see-when-driving-a-car (and, yes, I was wearing my glasses, thank you for asking) … Most traffic lights have some “protective material” that reflects the light, thereby making it nearly impossible to ascertain the light’s status … until one is nearly in the intersection.

Confession #3: I may have run a red light (let’s call it pink, not quite red) but not on purpose!

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Laura Dennis

About Laura Dennis

Laura Dennis was adopted and raised on the East Coast of the United States. A professionally trained dancer, Laura gave up aches and pains and bloody feet in her mid-twenties to become a sales director at a biotech startup. Then with two children under the age of three, she and her husband sought to simplify their lifestyle and in 2010 they escaped to his hometown, Belgrade. While the children learned Serbian in their cozy preschool, Laura recovered from sleep deprivation and wrote Adopted Reality, A Memoir. She blogs at Expat (Adoptee) Mommy