Driving in Beirut Traffic
Daily life poems

Beirut Traffic: Driving in Lebanon, the fun and the ugly

Honking, even when stuck in traffic is bad for your health.

Driving in my car with my brand-new song. 

Bouncing with the speed bumps 

Flying over the potholes 

Oh boy, I am lucky the street decided to let me have fun today

An amusement park right under my foot accelerator

Maybe the other cars know I’m bored 

So, they honk too

They’re so sweet they are talking to me

It would be rude not to respond

So, I do the little honk thing back

We are all honking now

A song is born

It is time do dance now

Cars start swing dancing -bypassing one another

Left lane

Right lane

Middle lane

Oh, jolly now we have four lanes

A car decides to be the DJ and brakes in the middle of the road 

Oh, the cops join in too adding red and blue disco lights to the party

This is just another day on the road

Another day on the road in Beirut

You can join the party too

This is me trying to see the positive side of Beirut traffic. Notice how there are no full stops in the poem, that is because the honking feels endless.

Stop honking: Noise pollution is influencing our mental health

Noise pollution can really damage our health. Yes, even when stuck in traffic. Don’t take my word for it, check out this research.

Traffic is the cause of most noise pollution in cities. Why is this bad? Just a few of the side effects include: hypertension and stress.

Realistically, I doubt Lebanon will ever be a country where people stop honking for stupid reasons.

Tensions are high, the roads are too small. Honking is just a part of the driving culture. Indeed, we just accept that people will honk at us.

Likewise, bypassing, and jumping lanes is simply part of driving in Lebanon. We cannot control other drivers. However, we can control how we react.

Admittedly, this is easy to say until someone almost hits you with their car. Naturally, you will get annoyed and angry. We all do. I just mean in the times where nothing major is happening, why waste our time screaming?

An image of a busy bridge and road.
Photo by Aleksejs Bergmanis on Pexels.com

The only thing you can control is you honking. Stop honking in your car. The noise is louder. Really, you are only annoying yourself and producing stress.

Naturally, if someone is backing up into you, you have to honk. There are times when honking is necessary.

Accidents are going to happen

Accidents happen. That is a part of driving. In this vein, save your anger and annoyance for the stressful events. For a simple drive, when someone is just annoying, do we really need to go all out with our anger?

Car accidents happen.
Photo by Artyom Kulakov on Pexels.com

3 simple changes

I am talking about making small realistic changes.

1. If someone is stopped on a red light in front of you (as they should) , do not honk. The traffic light won’t turn green quicker if you do. How does that benefit you? Honking increases stress and noise pollution. Especially, today we need less stress.

2. Let’s stop honking for people to come out of their houses when we reach their dive-way. There are other ways to tell people we are here. To be honest, I am guilty of this. But I am going to stop.

3. If someone is driving slowly in front of you. What is the point of honking? They are just going to continue driving at their pace. Likely, honking will make them only want to continue driving slowly. You can try to bypass them.

A picture of a steering wheel and honk.
Photo by Beth Easton on Pexels.com

If you already honk only when necessary, your stress levels and humanity thank you.

Traffic lights are not working is that bad? Let’s not compare our roads to other countries.

Attention: Traffic lights not working. In many countries that can cause real chaos. In Lebanon, that is just another day.

Is it really so bad?

Traffic lights are broken.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Do not follow that traffic light

Furthermore, I remember driving back home from university. Yup, the location is undisclosed because well, cyber security. Not that I think anybody wants to kidnap me since I am insignificant. But hey, it is always better to stay safe.

Anyway, I digress. On the way back, I was taking a shortcut from my dorms, that latches onto Corniche street. The intersection has a traffic light, which was clearly red. As a new driver, I stopped at the red light.

Surprisingly, the police officer told me, “What are you doing, nobody follows this traffic light, move”.

Hmmm. You might think, what in the world, this is batshit crazy. However, we have funny traffic lights sometimes where they are not needed. At weird intersections that cause traffic for no reason. There are unspoken rules about roads you have to instinctively know.

Then again, there are areas where I wish and pray for a traffic light, since cars are flying everywhere. To your right, left, front, and behind. You are surrounded. Unfortunately, usually when there is a traffic officer, the traffic is even worse.

Control your own emotions in traffic, that is the only thing you can control.
Photo by Matheus Bertelli on Pexels.com

Is driving school enough?

As a professional beginner student driver, as in I took two years of driving lessons in two different countries, I find you have to have a quicker reaction speed to drive in Lebanon. Obviously, when you first come to Lebanon from another country, you might find that the cars look crazy jumping and swerving everywhere.

I agree. Distinctly, I remember thinking I will never drive here. Everything I learned in driving school in Jordan was thrown out the window.

In Jordan, the instructor instructed me to look in the rearview mirror every 30 seconds. He taught me how to park between the lines and told me about many rules.

Do I think I could drive though? Honestly, no. At the time I was told, I needed just a few more lessons before applying for my driving license. I would not have survived a day driving in Beirut.

Nothing can prepare you for driving in Lebanon. It is not really the drivers’ faults (a lot of the time), there are simply too many cars for roads that do not fit them. Roads are simply too small.

That leaves us with four lanes instead of the intended two. At first, I used to get crazy anxiety about driving. I would be lying if I said I still don’t get anxiety when I reach Hamra street. Or try to jump onto the highway. Worst of all enter Achrafieh. Yes, I still do not drive there because it is a jungle. Or I am a crappy driver.

Truth be told, nothing could have prepared me for driving here except actually driving here. A breath is sometimes too far between one car and the other.

Traffic is part of driving, you can only control yourself.
Photo by STANLEY NGUMA on Pexels.com

Be prepared for emergency situations.

After some time, bad weather conditions, electricity issues, and the Beirut bomb meant that some traffic lights in Beirut are off. Or stuck on yellow (if they are still standing). Mainly, this long story is just to show how we ended up with no traffic lights in some zones.

Driving problems.
Photo by SplitShire on Pexels.com

Every day people pass by these traffic lights that blink yellow and manage to make their way to work and back. It makes you think, are traffic lights necessary?

Actually, they are very necessary. However, in emergency situations we just have to adapt and not panic. It is possible to live without traffic lights.

However, it is obviously more dangerous and inconvenient. Perhaps, driving schools should focus more on teaching us how to drive and react in emergency situations like a storm.

How to make traffic bearable?

Additionally, this poem is my way to make peace with the driving here.

At first, it was horrible obviously. You just need to find a way to enjoy the traffic and screaming.

I used to get mad or get up in my feelings when somebody would swear at me. Or bypass me. Honk aggressively. The list goes on and on. That is not the way to take a daily commute though. Over time, focusing on the negative eats away at your personality.

Listen to music in car.
Photo by Mike on Pexels.com

I learned to see the beauty in the chaos. At least, I had some form of entertainment. Traffic gave me time to myself to think and listen to new songs. My playlist is ever-increasing. Other times, I listen to podcast and kill two birds with one stone.

This little time to yourself, to think and reflect can be help center you. I even take the longer routes sometimes if the scenery is better.

Some good news, apparently, a new study suggests that the use of an intelligent honk reduces noise pollution. Put simply, it is something techy that helps reduce honking. Read more about it, because honestly, I did not understand the particularities.

It will probably be sometime for it to be widespread. However, it is comforting to know that steps are being taken to reduce honking related stress. For now, though, we can just stick to honking less.

The less anger we display the better for our personal health. Emotions like anger, hate, and stress take up too much of our time.

So, will you honk today?

Hit the reply button !