Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Where in the world am I? (3)

I live in a country where hospitals are actively discouraged from keeping records of road accident casualties, because the statistics are just too horrific to contemplate.

Even the WHO, which tends to be very conservative in such assessments, estimates that the official figure for annual road traffic deaths here may be only around 55% of the true total. And the official figure is plenty bad enough.

The situation on the roads here is so chaotic, so murderous that we live in a perpetual state of heightened awareness, alert to even the most seemingly remote and improbable possibility of sudden homicidal incompetence in our vicinity. After some time away, this nervous hyperactivity slowly settles back down to a more normal, complacent level. But, while visiting London and DC - and even New York - this summer, I never quite got over being surprised when cars slowed and stopped for me as soon as I stepped off the kerb. Here, they speed up and aim towards you!

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