You're driving through town, you have some foreign friends with you who have lived a while in Luxembourg. What does one normally talk about in a car? Last night's dinner, tonight's party, the girls (or the boys), the cars, the last GrandPrix? After that, there is normally a lapse in conversation, until something weird or anormal happens in traffic. Somebody in front of you switches lanes without signaling, somebody brakes unexpectedly, someone honks for the wrong reason, which jumpstarts a new conversation in the car about driving habits, dangerous situations, etc.
Invariably, at this point, while you still wonder about your fantastic carcontrol, one of your foreign friends will inevitably remark: "You know, Luxembourgers are very strange drivers." You know he doesn't mean you, you also somehow sense that the speaker is trying to be very diplomatic, but what you instantly and definitely know is that he implies that half the Luxembourgers in cars are weird, crazy and dangerous drivers.
Let's see if that is true. Why do half the Luxembourgish drivers have such a bad reputation? And what if a Luxembourger said that to his knowledge, nearly all real Luxembourgers (people of this nationality or born here, same thing) are excellent drivers when one looks at traffic properly?
But let's first look at this picture. It's avenue de la Liberté, late afternoon rush-hour, a typical situation:
While a few seconds later, in the back of your car, the famous "Luxembourg driver" remark is made. The first few times you heard somebody making this remark, you wondered somehow if that wasn't the truth really.
After all, one really sees so many strange situations in Luxembourg that one can't but wonder if this popular belief about weird and zany Luxembourg drivers isn't true after all.
You're turning into avenue de la gare and in front of you, two cars hustle for parking space:
Seems to confirm what your friend just said.
Meanwhile you ponder driving life. In the course of your driving career, you've seen it all. Funny collisions, weird encounters, behaviour from outer space...
But after a while, you start to wonder. What if so many were possibly so utterly wrong? 'Cos you see, there are a few things that somehow seem not right in this commonly accepted opinion of Luxembourg street madness. Something simply doesn't click.
You know for example that approximately half the people living in Luxembourg city are foreigners. That's about 40 000. You know many of them. You also know that there are a few tens of thousands of foreigners coming to work daily in Luxembourg. You work with many of them. You know from personal experience that at least half the delivery vans are driven by the cousins of the boys who drive New York cabs.
Next, your statistical random memory fuses with something you saw a few days ago that might have looked like this:
Doesn't this look as if there were lots of foreigners in this typical Luxembourg traffic scene? You suddenly remember when your Portuguese neighbour's wife got her licence. How carefully she'd drive, in the beginning, braking everywhere, putting on the blinkers at any opportunity at at any direction, no matter where she was looking... you remember the Swede you helped buy a car, how he drove as on ice. And that basically sweet Madrilene lady who'd use her fenders as a torro would use its horns. You remember the night you drove through town with some Irish friends to go to a party and the driver went absentmindedly into left-lane driving for a moment.
And in the end you wonder if not most of the people who seem to be strange-driving Luxembourgers aren't in fact people from somewhere else. Driving as if they were home.
What does all this tell us really? If you remember from the beginning... No? Ok, I'll just quote it, so you won't have to check. I said: "And what if ... nearly all real Luxembourgers (people of this nationality or born here, same thing) were excellent drivers when one looks at Luxembourg traffic properly? "
Well, the above should explain by sufficient evidence why real Luxembourgers are born to become EXCELLENT drivers.
Because from the first time they have to cross a road as kids on the way to kindergarten, Luxembourgers have to learn to share the roads with all those strange and crazy foreigners who populate Luxembourg's streets. It's a matter of survival. And since nothing sharpens one's senses as the daily contact with survival situations, having to drive next to our foreign friends is what makes us Luxembourgers such sharp, skillful, polite, careful and safe drivers.
Honestly, would you ever have guessed THAT?
15 Nov 98