About the way people drive here I have been thinking about the speed they use while conducting their cars. I have been asked about it and come to acknowledge the fact that there seems to exist a prejudice that Europeans by default are fast drivers.
But that is just not the case here. At least not to a generic degree. Sure there are fast drivers, but you notice them, it’s not like they are everywhere and all the time.
I am a fast driver, especially when in Sweden and the northern hemisphere, but in comparison to the rest of the traffic I drive fast also here, in Southern Europe. So what is that about, and what can it tell about the Portuguese and the Portuguese culture?
Interestingly a starting point could be the financial situation here. Cars are taxed directly related to the age of the vehicle and its cubic capacity. There will also be account taken to the vehicle’s CO2 emissions and the power of the engine, but the interesting part in this case is the fact that you pay higher taxes for a quicker car. So that explains why in the streets here you see so many small slow cars. They pay lesser taxes. And since the country is in Europes bottom league financially, it matters to a higher degree than in most places. The car producers actually apply their variants so that there is a smaller version that fits in within the lower tax span. It explains why the Fiat 500 is so very seen everywhere. And it for sure explains why in the very hilly Lisbon greater city area all of a sudden when going uphill, the traffic slows down to a near stop, just to slowly pick up pace in the next downhill. People are stomping their gas pedals to the floor uphill, but nothing happens.
A second variable might opt to be the mentality of the Portuguese. Because really, nobody seems to be in a rush. Ever. Not when late to work. Neither when late to school. Also not when nobody opens up a new cash register in a super market with very long lines of customers waiting to pay in the other cashiers. The Portuguese simply seem to not be ticked off by having to wait. Maybe because they know the feeling, they wouldn’t be hurrying themselves if they were in the same situation, so how could they expect someone else to be quick? Beats me how they do it, but they really seem quite relaxed, and take a moment to look out the window for a while instead. Or look at something in the shelf next to them that they weren’t interested in from the beginning. Or start up a conversation that means that they themselves will be the next to not start in time, thus postponing the line even more. And the ones behind will wait, with their sanity intact. Maybe even with a smile on their faces.
So, I guess, with that mindset, it really isn’t that important or interesting to drive fast, cause, what’s the rush?
Or, could it simply be the fact the speed cameras are far more efficient than the not rushed police officers and thus again money talks and people slow down?