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Srbija 2020

Death Drives a Flame Red Yugo (with blacked-out windows!)


Death Dives a Flame Red YugoDeath Dives a Flame Red Yugo

I’ve no idea what I’ve done, but apparently I’ve upset a lot of people.   For a while I thought that maybe I’d acquired a late-onset paranoid personality disorder, a surprisingly common condition apparently, in men of a certain age that’ve been around a bit.  But it can’t be that; I’ve looked in the reference books and it’s clear that I don’t meet any (well, not enough) of the important diagnostic criteria. No, my paranoia it seems is probably just a natural by-product of living in the first decade of the 21st century, aggravated by a foolhardy readiness occasionally to venture out with my car onto Serbian roads.  It’s there that I’m confronted with irrefutable evidence that hundreds of angry people I don’t know and I’ve never met, are all trying to kill me.   And I’m not the only one. 

Judging by the countless tragic little black stone roadside memorials, Death is fully employed stalking the highways and byways of Serbia.  How terribly sad. So what is it about road users here?  Are there really more homicidal maniacs on Serbian roads than elsewhere?   In truth, probably not.  In my experience, Northern Ireland and South Africa are home to some worthy competitors!  But these days its Serbian roads I’m driving on and the homicidal maniacs who are trying to kill me are usually driving Serbian cars, lorries, buses or motorbikes (especially buses!) and even on one bizarre occasion, a horse and cart.  Am I unfairly prejudiced?  Do you use the roads here?  Well what do you think?    

My friend Bane who’s a Belgrade driving instructor, a taxi driver and an all-round good guy says that Serbian drivers are really skilled; they just drive crap cars on lousy roads. And because people here are usually busy simply surviving, or just trying hard to make an extra buck, then a little aggression’s often necessary to overcome the shortcomings of their car/lorry/bus/horse etc. At the same time drivers in Serbia have to overcome the shortcomings of the road, track, footpath, pavement, car park or filling station forecourt they’re driving on and last but not least, the shortcomings of the idiot who’s in their way and who’s too stupid to understand just how important their journey is.

So if they don’t drive like Schumacher on crack, they won’t get to where they want to be when they need to be there.  It’s an interesting idea, but I’m not convinced. Aggression, intimidation, bullying, flamboyant determination, reckless bravado or machismo on wheels – call it what you will, it seems to be the tactic of choice of a very large number of the (obviously very busy and hard pressed) drivers and riders I meet who apparently have to get to where they’re going just that little bit more quickly than me.  But I’m intrigued; it seems that many of these people are not invariably or inevitably merciless predators! 

Sometimes there’s a hint of humanity in the soul of the aggressor and a moment of shared purpose in the face of a common threat.   Suddenly when you least expect it there’s a suspension of hostilities, like a latter-day 1914 Christmas Truce between British and German soldiers.  And when does this happen? Why, whenever ‘Gospodin Policajac’ is about.  All of a sudden, the sworn enemy becomes the partner in crime and with a quick flash of headlights and perhaps a friendly wave, you’re alerted to the fact that Serbia’s finest in full hunting mode, heavily armed with ‘lollipop’ and speed camera is waiting for you, hidden around the next bend and eager to add you to his bag for that day. 

But like the Christmas Truce, these moments of essential humanity and common sense don’t last.  Soon enough, the warm glow of fellow feeling is replaced by the cold stab of terror as you realise you’ve nowhere to go to avoid the flame red Yugo with the blacked out windows that’s bearing down on you.  You know, the one which can’t quite complete the triple overtake on the blind bend ahead, but the driver’s not going to give up, oh no!  Even if he kills himself in the attempt – and his wife – and his kids – and me.


 Oh yes, there’s one other thing.  If he does get me, please don’t let anyone erect one of those little black stone memorials for me.  They’re very depressing and reading them when you’re driving can be so distracting. I’d prefer it if people would just pay attention to what’s going on in front of them, and behind them, and everywhere else.  If they do, maybe they’ll be lucky. Maybe they’ll spot the flame red Yugo before it’s too late.

It's rather simply Andy;

Serbia is full of frustrated and hence aggressive people who vent all their anger the one place they shouldn't: the road.
Driving through traffic jams in Belgrade offers plenty more evidence of this "phenomenon." Our choked streets are awash with restless and reckless drivers who keep honking their horns even when it's obvious you've got nowhere to go unless your car can somehow transform into a helicopter and start flying.

I guess

you guys never been on a road around chinese and koreans. if they don't kill ME by accident (cause they don't pay whatsoever attention to anything), then I will kill my self for trying to avoid them. I feel like pinball around them.

as far as serbians...that's like therapy for them: to honk, yell, swear .... you'll understand one day when something will go wrong and the only way to exhale that bad energy is by yelling to a stranger to f*** himher self (bitch for a female driver), or to flip a bird.... whatever you find more appropriate to your needs at that point.

but I must say that our road are really bad and those curves that we have....we really have good drivers.

anyway good luck :D

What about

Italian or Greek maniacs?

Dear Andrew, thank you for not mentioning women drivers.
You're a real gentleman!


There are all kinds of crazy drivers in Belgrade.
But, have you ever been to Moscow? Have you ever seen people trying to cross the street and not to be hit by a car although the lite is green?
Or even Greece? Athens? What is their problem?! They are also driving very quickly, shouting all the time and could easily hit you and drive on!
Not to mention Turkey, Egypt... from my experience...

Starship troopers

Mr. Beaumont had pointed up the clear fact that driving your car here usually equals to being a legitimate target. The way they drive in other countries is not excuse at all - our dead are burried here.
Being a law-obedient (blue) Yugo driver myself, with a clean 28 years licence record, couple of weeks ago I was forced into a very bad accident: a long bus (trademark ''Tine&Radojka'') tried to kill me in cold blood, and then left the spot and left me the blame. Gospodin policajac made it very clear, since I had no intention to offer any compensation to his ''his bag''.
Nobody was hurt, but things like that make you reconsider lot of things...
Take care.

It is bad

Very bad... The good news is, though, things can improve considerably. Back in the 1970s, the state of NSW in Australia had the annual road toll of about 1500 deaths. (NSW has about half the population of Serbia, incl. Kosovo; however the car ownership is about twice as high, which makes the situations roughly comparable). The annual road toll in Serbia now is around 1000 (so I've read somewhere).

These days, the annual road toll in NSW is just over 500 (consistently so). In the same time, the population has grown considerably, which means that the road deaths have been reduced pretty dramatically. How come? Better roads, more stringent driver testing, _harsh_ penalties for road offences (not only in dollars, but also in so-called "demerit" points; after you've done 2-3 relatively minor offences, such as speeding, not having seat belts on, or talking on the mobile telephone when driving - you basically lose your licence for a year - easily!)

Things can improve in Serbia, too... (with so many people originating from the Balkans, Italy or Ireland living and driving in Australia, you can't really talk about a drastically "different mentality").

Cheers all and safe driving.

Quote:My friend Bane who’s

My friend Bane who’s a Belgrade driving instructor, a taxi driver and an all-round good guy says that Serbian drivers are really skilled; they just drive crap cars on lousy roads.

Of course they are NOT even though they think they are. However, my definition of a good driver may differ a bit from Serbian standards. It's not being able to drive 100 mph in rush hour with complete disregard for human life and property.

How much milage does an average Serbian driver have behind him/her? What's actually more important, as Bane said, is that they drive crappy cars on even crappier roads. In other places where an average car is maybe 5 years old and roads are decent, 50% of accidents are avoided by simply having a car with all parts working, with a stopping distance of less than a mile, and all other "standard" things such as ABS, EBA, power steering etc.

women drivers

For a long time I was really traumatized when driving because every time somebody honked or yelled at me I thought I had done something wrong.

It turns out that a woman behind the wheel is an extremely irritating sight for other (male) drivers.

Driving culture,

as any other, need to be cultivated. Some 16 years ago we lost the state/system. The first couple of years without road traffic cultivation resulted with all previously, for decades, invested efforts and results- permanently erased.
Further, last several years are marked with rapid increase of cars and newborn drivers. Driving schools are terribly lousy. (A friend of mine, in his 40s, recently instantly completed driving lessons and got the license; he is driving "freely" but without any basic knowledge even about simple technique how to drive downhill without unnecessary use of breaks, etc !!!).

Instead TV (and other media) positive campaigning for defensive and safe driving, we have TV (and other media) pure commercials on luxury vehicles, affordable for less then 5% of driving population of this country.

New road traffic law draft is based on more drastic and systematic negative sanctions for offensive driving. But, a systemic approach has to include public campaigning and positive reinforcement for decent and safe driving behaviour, too.

Personally, after 25 years of, mostly extensive, driving experience, I'm, day after day, more scared of "flame red Yugos" and other four-wheel lunatics, too.

I survived

I survived a Yugo attack once, however it was white with regular glass. I was on foot and walking through this little street (which I know believe to be jinxed as cars in it are repetitively out to get me), with construction blocking the sidewalk. Worst of all some dimwit was walking out carrying a huge 2x4 or something towards me, avoiding that meant having the Yugo ram my left calf at a respective speed. I am okay, so I think, but I think I heard a crack in his bumper...