Last week I was pulled over again… for the SEVENTH time in Morocco. That’s a little ridiculous. It’s become a trend; I get anxious in the car here – and I’m not an anxious person – because I have NO IDEA when I may be getting pulled over. I took the train to Marrakech from Rabat recently (added an extra two hours each way) because I didn’t want to deal with it.
I contribute my bad luck to two factors:
- Rabat is a very diplomatic town. Having diplomatic plates gets you out of a lot of traffic infractions.
- I do not have dip plates, which is to say: I’m fair game.
- I have absolutely no idea what the local rules are.
That’s not to say there aren’t rules, I’m sure there are, but they don’t make sense to me. I admit it, I take for granted that the rules I’m used to should just be ‘the way’ and that every other country should be following the same ones. In short: I drive as I would back home and hope that it works. Apparently it does not.
Let’s look at the evidence:
- Turning right on red. Nope, not allowed. I couldn’t actually see the light though since it was behind me and thought I was to follow the stop sign. The officer let me off easy. Now ask me why there was a light AND a stop sign… Africa.
- On the phone while driving. Busted and fined. I think this is legal if you’ve stopped the vehicle, but I’m not going to test it.
- Stopping… late??? Four lane divided road; line of stopped cars in the right lane, left lane is open. I’m not the type to stand in random lines if I don’t know what they’re for, so I stay left and keep trucking. It’s dark, the officer is standing to the right of the line of cars and apparently just expects that you’ll stop even if you can’t see him. Duh. I fake no French and he lets me go.
- Speeding. Morocco needs to post some actual signs – half the time I have no idea what the speed limit is. Faked a lack of French again, but got the ticket anyway.
- Blowing a stop sign. I had never, ever seen anyone stop at this thing. Reprimanded and let go. I don’t drive that way anymore since it’s so ambiguous.
- Speeding #2. I wasn’t, but I’m a foreigner in a non-dip plated car. I drive away un-ticketed.
- Turning left across double lines. How am I to know this? He said pay $90 or give up my license. Since I only carry an expired license I told him to keep it – I have two more with me anyway.
Story here I suppose is that I should figure out what the rules are. At this point I’m frustrated but I could resolve a lot of that if I took the time to research it…
On the positive side: While I’ve heard that ‘spot payments’ are common here in Morocco, I’m happy to say that every incident I’ve incurred was on the level. If a fine was levied, paperwork was involved and I was asked to sign the ticket (not that I could read it, it was all in Arabic). That’s a good indication of proper oversight; next time I’ll tell you my story of the cop in Tijuana who escorted me to the ATM…
Is anyone else having this issue?!?!?