Sunday, May 11, 2014

Road Rage in Vienna

Road Rage is an ugly fact of life, no matter where one lives.  I've certainly had experiences in every community I've driven in, from rural Arizona to the streets of D.C. during the height of the 1980s carjackings.  I've also had two previous employers provide defensive driving education courses, one went as far as teaching us how to use our automobiles to evade terrorist kidnappers who might be using incendiary devices to stop the vehicle.  None of this training, and I mean NONE, prepared me for the road rage antics of the Viennese "driver".

I've written before about the aggressive nature of drivers here.  They want to occupy the space you do, regardless of whether you are still in it or not.  They also play a game of chicken on the narrow streets, hoping the other driver will "blink" first.  With that being said, I'm driving here only when necessary.

I've also experienced random acts of driver kindness.  This is the exception to the rule.

The great thing about Vienna is the ease of public transit and the fact that many of the urban stations we use today were designed by visionary architect Otto Wagner.  When one walks into an Otto Wagner designed station, the stress of getting from here to there is replaced by utilitarian elegance.

Grey Day Gorgeous

All of this leads me to an important warning for my fellow drivers in Vienna.

Beware of what I call the "short stop" stunt.  My first experience was with a driver who tried the short stop after I signaled and pulled in front with plenty of space and time to spare.  He then sped up and passed me, only to pull immediately in front of me and slam on the brakes.  There was no reason for stopping other than a scare or crash.  Luckily, the aggressive nature of his pass caused me to start braking before the joker pulled his trick, so we successfully avoided both his rear bumper and an unexpected trip over the banks into the Donau Canal.  Oh yes, "we".  I had my 9 year old in the car.  Well, lesson learned.  I promptly filed the short stop stunt away in my mental notes of driving in Vienna.

Wouldn't ya know, it happened again, last week.  Pretty much the same scenario, except I was alone and chose the nuclear option.  Hell to the yes, I flipped the guy off.  The bird.  The one finger salute.  The finger wave.  Fly like an Eagle, American bird.  

Well, this guy not only slammed on the brakes, he exited his vehicle and started at me.  Believe me, he did not have far to go since I was stopped 4 inches off his BMW ass.

Driver training?  What driver training?

Time stood still.  

These three things flashed through my mind as he approached:

1.  Flip him the Double Bird
2.  Grab my phone and Instagram him
3.  Dateline Vienna:  "American Woman in Mom Jeans and Skechers Engages in Street Brawl with Euro Chic Metrosexual"

While I pondered the options above and gave Mr. Man a "don't mess with me" dirty look, my driving friends came to the rescue in typical Viennese fashion.  They started leaning on the horn.  I don't think I've ever heard such a beautiful sound.  Mr. Man, wind through his hair gel, retreated with some parting words I didn't even understand and sped off.   

Dr. Google Photo

Well, now I know these things:  Be on the look out for the short stop stunt.  Viennese drivers recognize the bird and they don't like it (heh, heh).  Don't wear Mom Jeans and Skechers, even when alone in the car. 


  1. Wow I had no idea Vienna had aggressive drivers. I'll have to keep this in mind when we eventually drive there for a visit.

    1. There is very little patience on the road here. The Garmin gets me around and I've started learning my regular routes. Good Luck!!

  2. Thank you for posting this! I think the drivers here are just insane. Not all of them, but a sizable minority are flat out of their minds. I blame all the coffee and nicotine. I don't need to drive often, but when I do, I pay close attention, and I remember what someone told me when I first got here--the secret to driving in Vienna is to get used to being honked at all the time and just ignore it.

    1. Exactly right. If they only saw their angry faces behind the wheel...scary stuff. I try to laugh more than scowl because it keeps my blood pressure in check.