How to drive in Malta

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The rearview mirror.

I have been driving for almost four months now. I got my driver’s licence after an ungodly amount of failed tests (but that’s another story for another time) and immediately set off on the road.

Driving in Malta is different to driving in most other countries (Sicily comes close, though). People here don’t really pay attention to the rules of the road. It’s all a little bit anarchic. It’s like people let off steam on their way home from work. They stomp down on the gas pedal, yell obscenities at you, take their sweet time in the fast lane. You have to be alert all the time, driving here.Your ability to judge situations and make quick decisions based on the circumstances needs to be fine-tuned. It’s the survival of the fittest out there.

I’ve taken the opportunity to make a list of the real rules of the road, just in case you were planning on driving here.

ALWAYS expect people to slow down for you
You’re coming out of a side road, onto a main road. There is a stop sign warning you to make sure no oncoming traffic is heading your way before driving off into the main road.You don’t need to stop, though. If you just head straight into the main road fast enough, people will pretty much have to stop for you unless they fancy an accident.

Bus drivers don’t give a shit.
Don’t get too close to a bus and whatever you do, don’t try to overtake it. Bus drivers will make it impossible for you to do so without wrecking your car. Also, if you are a pedestrian at a zebra crossing and you see a bus speeding towards you, for the love of god don’t cross the road. They will not stop. They will hoot at you to get out of the way. I have seen a bus do this with an old woman using a walking frame. I’ve never seen anybody with a walking frame run so fast to get out of the way before. Which reminds me…

You don’t need to stop at a zebra crossing
Goddamn pedestrians, spoiling your fun. As you approach a zebra crossing, speed up so they don’t even dare consider stepping off the pavement.

Fast lane? What fast lane?
There is no such thing as an overtaking lane in Malta. Both lanes are there for you to drive in. There’s a continuous white line between them sometimes, and sometimes the line is broken. Maybe they ran out of paint? Feel free to drive on either side of the road – you don’t even need to indicate to change lanes because everybody knows Maltese people are psychic. Also, if you want to do 20km/h in the fast lane, go right ahead. Those people are only hooting their horns because they’re jealous of your car.

It’s absolutely fine to obstruct traffic while you go about your errands, or if you’re hungry
Need to use an ATM to withdraw some cash? No parking to be found? No worries! In Malta, you can leave your car in the middle of the road while you go about your business. If anybody tries to get you to move your car, just tell them to go fornicate with themselves; after all, you had the decency of turning on your hazard lights. Those jackasses can bloody well wait. Oh, and by the way, if you fancy yourself a snack while you’re driving, just stop next to the pastizzeria, roll down your window and yell out your order at the guy behind the counter. Then, wait in your car until your food is ready. Oh yes, when the guy brings you your food, make sure you talk to him a little bit. Two minutes or so will do. Never mind the horns hooting behind you. Those drivers obviously don’t understand the importance of social interaction.

Blind the people who are kind enough to let you pass
When you are driving through a very narrow road during the night time and an oncoming vehicle stops to let you pass, switch your brights on for five seconds and blind them, just to show them how much you care.

An amber traffic light means speed up
Red light means stop, mostly. Green light means go. Amber means GO GO GO before that bastard turns red.

Have I left any out? Leave a comment and let me know!

15 Comments
  • Josepha
    March 22, 2011

    And never ever put on your indicator lights on for other drivers to know of your intention to stop or turn. God forbid they should be advised a couple of seconds beforehand…

    • admin
      March 22, 2011

      Obviously, because we are a psychic nation!

    • John Muscat
      October 29, 2013

      Never put your indicator light in the right direction! You are turning right? Turn on left one! And don’t forget to put your indicators on every bend and curve! You must be seen!!!
      Viva Malta…

  • Josepha
    March 22, 2011

    And never ever put on your indicator lights on for other drivers to know of your intention to stop or turn. God forbid they should be advised a couple of seconds beforehand…

  • Hannah Wayte
    March 22, 2011

    Teehee I like this post x

  • Sarah
    March 24, 2011

    Hahahah brilliant and so very true of Maltese driving. The first time I drove in Malta, with Stu in the car, he spent the entire time covering his eyes! I’m amazed you don’t have more serious accidents there though.

    • admin
      March 24, 2011

      Haha poor Stu! The roads here are a total nightmare! I think being on the roads here you develop super quick reflexes, which is why we don’t get into as many accidents as we should!

    • Colette
      October 29, 2013

      There aren’t many serious accidents since there are no highways in Malta and the driving speed is in most cases always below 80km/hr.

  • Sharon Attard
    March 24, 2011

    Double yellow lines are simply another parking space, just as long as you follow the crucial rule of putting your indicators on. As long as those are there, signalling that you’re about to leave that space at ANY MOMENT, you’re good to go :)

    • Sharon Attard
      March 24, 2011

      Whoops, I meant hazard lights ;)

    • admin
      March 24, 2011

      Oh, for sure. And if even the double yellow lines are occupied, double parking is also acceptable.

  • Mark
    March 28, 2011

    Reminded me of an old post of mine Dav! http://markbiwwa.com/2010/08/22/the-great-maltese-driving-nightmare/

  • Vincent Stafrace
    March 29, 2011

    Well…. another rule about driving in Malta is….. Never ever ever play chicken with anyone larger then yourself.
    I have driven many times in Malta, but it holds nothing over Thailand.
    Mysteriously, in Malta, you ar more likely to end up in an accident if you follow the rules or hesitate.
    There is a common rule. Make up your mind and do it fast.
    If you put an indicator on to let your intentions know. The other will just speed up to block you off, so just do it.

    As one nice police officer once told me and many many years ago. Drive anyway you want, just don’t get into an accident or that means he has to fill out a report.

    All for now.

    • admin
      March 29, 2011

      That comment by the police officer made me laugh. Sounds about right.

  • myriam Warrington
    November 7, 2014

    Watch out for old men with Skodas! They drive slowly in the fast lane as though they are on a perpetual Sunday drive! And they blast their horns at every corner meaning to say: don’t you dare come anywhere close!

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